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Turkey urges Russian Federation and Iran to stop Idlib offensive

Turkey urges Russian Federation and Iran to stop Idlib offensive

On Monday, Russia said pilotless drones carrying explosives attacked Russian bases in Syria last weekend without causing any casualties or damage.

On Tuesday, Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the Russian and Iranian ambassadors to Ankara, according to diplomatic sources, after saying the Syrian regime was targeting moderate opposition forces in Idlib near the Turkish border.

The minister's comments came a day after Syrian government forces captured several towns and advanced closer to an opposition-held air base in the northwestern province of Idlib, following intense battles with the al-Qaida-linked militant groups.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Russian Federation and Iran must fulfill their duties under a joint accord reached with Turkey previous year under which the three countries announced a "de-escalation zone" in Idlib. Idlib, bordering Turkey, is the largest single chunk of Syria still under the control of rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. But Mr Cavusoglu said the Idlib offensive was endangering those efforts.

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De-escalation zones include the Idlib Province, some parts of its neighboring areas in the Latakia, Hama and Aleppo Provinces north of the city of Homs, Eastern Ghouta, as well as the Daraa and al-Quneitra Provinces in southern Syria.

The fighting and airstrikes have forced more than 60,000 people to leave their homes since November 1, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In accordance with a decision made by Russia, Iran and Turkey - the guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire - in May 2017, de-escalation zones were set up in Syria.

Idlib province is nearly entirely controlled by anti-government forces that are dominated by a jihadist outfit known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.