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Erdogan urges Putin to restrain Assad regime in Idlib

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday (February 21) urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to halt the Assad regime's offensive in northwest Syria.

Russian air strikes in the northwestern province of Idlib are bolstering a months-long Assad regime onslaught that has forced nearly one million civilians to flee -- the biggest displacement of the nine-year conflict.

"The president during the call stressed that the regime should be restrained in Idlib and that the humanitarian crisis must be stopped," the Turkish presidency said in a statement after the two leaders spoke by phone.

In their call, Putin and Erdogan agreed to "intensify bilateral consultations on Idlib with the aim of reducing tensions, guaranteeing a ceasefire and neutralizing the terrorist threat", the Kremlin said in a statement.

Erdogan told Putin the solution was to return to the Sochi agreement they signed in 2018, which allowed Turkey to establish military posts across Idlib designed to prevent a regime assault.

That deal has been increasingly set aside as Syrian forces advance steadily into the region.

In Brussels, French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called for a summit on Syria "as soon as possible" with the leaders of Germany, Russia and Turkey.

Speaking on the sidelines of an EU budget summit, Macron said the Syrian offensive "risked provoking a humanitarian catastrophe, an escalation of the conflict and a migration crisis."

In 2015, EU countries split sharply over how to cope with their worst migration crisis since World War II when around a million people, most of them fleeing Syria, entered the bloc.

Based on AFP

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