Turkish and Syrian Armies clash, Atleast 7 Turkish soldiers martyred

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Turkish and Syrian Armies clash, Atleast 7 Turkish soldiers martyred

ISLAMABAD - The UN is “alarmed” by recent clashes between Turkish and Syrian government forces in northwestern Syria and has called for a rapid de-escalation and a return to peaceful negotiations.

Speaking with reporters on Monday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric warned of clashes between forces loyal to Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Turkey, which left as many as six Turkish troops dead.

“We’re very much alarmed by the reports that we saw of clashes between Syrian government troops and Turkish forces in northwest Syria,” Dujarric said at UN headquarters in New York.

“I think this escalation underscores yet again the threat to regional and international peace and security caused by the ongoing conflict in Syria.”

Dujarric described ongoing contacts “at various levels” with officials in Syria, Turkey, Russia and other powers involved in Syria’s civil war, with a message to “de-escalate” and reduce the death toll in the northwestern province of Idlib.

“We also remain deeply concerned by the continuing reports of civilian casualties and the large-scale displacement of civilians, resulting from the current Syrian Government offensive inside the de-escalation zone,” said Dujarric.

“The secretary-general [Antonio Guterres] reaffirms yet again that no attacks on civilians or civilian infrastructure should take place.”

A total of 54 regime targets were hit and 76 regime soldiers neutralized by the Turkish military, said Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Monday.

Akar made the remarks after meeting with top commanders in a quickly organized trip to Turkey’s border with Syria in the wake of the regime attack which left also at least seven troops wounded.

Idlib province is the last remaining stronghold for anti-government forces in a war that began as a series of pro-democracy protests in 2011 but quickly turned into a multi-front melee involving local and foreign fighters of all stripes.

The province is home to some 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced by fighting elsewhere.

Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression were expressly prohibited. A second attempt to broker a ceasefire to begin on Jan. 12 also failed to hold. - Sputnik

Middle East