France, Germany Call For Ceasefire In Syria's Idlib - Macron

BRUSSELS (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd February, 2020) French President Emmanuel Macron said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and he were calling on parties to the Syrian conflict to respect the ceasefire in the province of Idlib amid the ongoing escalation of tensions in the region.

On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that militants supported by Turkish artillery had breached the defense positions of the Syrian army near the villages of Qmenas and Nerab in Idlib. Russia's Su-24 jet opened fire at the militants, helping the Syrian troops to repel the advancing fighters. The Turkish Defense Ministry later reported that two Turkish soldiers had been killed and five injured in an air attack in Idlib, adding that over 50 Syrians had been killed as a result of return fire.

"We believe that this situation [escalation of tensions in Idlib] could be settled only via a call for an immediate cessation of hostilities," Macron said at a press conference in Brussels on late Friday.

He described the situation in Idlib as dangerous, adding that the current hostilities may result in a further uncontrolled escalation of violence.

"We know that today Idlib is facing a humanitarian disaster amid the ongoing offensive of the forces loyal to the [Syrian] regime, backed by Russia," the French leader said, adding that the hostilities left some hospitals and offices of non-governmental organizations ruined.

Macron also called for resuming the political settlement and Istanbul-format talks, which involve France, Germany, Russia and Turkey.

Idlib remains the last stronghold of militants and terrorists in Syria. In September 2018, Russia and Turkey agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in the province, but militants continued to stage attacks on the Syrian government troops and civilians, which resulted in a new offensive of Damascus in the region.