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World Turkey-Syria clashes escalate as humanitarian crisis grows

13:25  14 february  2020
13:25  14 february  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

Trump speaks with Turkey's Erdogan amid growing tensions in Syria

  Trump speaks with Turkey's Erdogan amid growing tensions in Syria President Trump spoke with Turkey's president on Saturday just days after U.S. forces clashed with Syrian government forces near an area where Turkish forces are attempting to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees. © UPI Photo Trump speaks with Turkey's Erdogan amid growing tensions in Syria Deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere told pool reporters Sunday evening that Trump had spoken with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a day earlier and "expressed concern over the violence in Idlib, Syria," referring to recent clashes between Turkish and Syrian government forces in the region.

The past 10 days have seen deadly clashes between rebel-allied Turkish soldiers and Bashar al-Assad's regime forces. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at both Syria and its Russian backers, vowing to Meanwhile, the fighting has unleashed a humanitarian crisis .

The Syrian civil war has escalated to a new level as the regime takes aim at the last rebel-held stronghold in Idlib. The United Nations says nearly 700,000

LONDON — Turkish and Russian-backed Syrian forces have clashed in recent days in Syria's last rebel stronghold, threatening to escalate hostilities in a region where as many as 800,000 civilians have been displaced.

a dirty old room: Image: A destroyed building in Idlib© Omar Haj Kadour Image: A destroyed building in Idlib

President Bashar al-Assad's forces have battled Turkish-backed fighters in the northwestern province of Idlib for years, but Damascus and Ankara in recent days have taken to directly targeting each other's troops. Turkey said it had retaliated on Monday after Syrian forces killed five of its soldiers in Idlib, a week after a similarly deadly clash between the two sides.

Merkel, Macron urge Putin to end conflict in Syria's Idlib

  Merkel, Macron urge Putin to end conflict in Syria's Idlib SYRIA-SECURITY/EUROPE (URGENT):Merkel, Macron urge Putin to end conflict in Syria's IdlibGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke together by phone with the Russian leader while at a European Union summit in Brussels.

Three million stuck at Turkish border in one of the worst humanitarian crises since start of war.

Crowded camps, closed border and cold weather raise fears of humanitarian crisis .

"Escalation is likely going to continue as long as Turkey and Russia cannot agree on a new cease-fire," said Berkay Mandıracı, a Turkey analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Despite continued talks between Russia and Turkey no new cease-fire or de-escalation agreement has been reached between the two sides. Instead, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Wednesday to escalate the conflict beyond Idlib's borders if another Turkish soldier was hurt.

"We will hit the regime forces anywhere without limiting ourselves to Idlib and to the boundaries of the Sochi memorandum," he told members of his AK Party, referring to cease-fire lines agreed between Russia and Turkey in 2018 that created a buffer or de-escalation zone in Idlib. "We will not wait for the outcome of those endless meetings."

Turkey at risk of more confrontations with Syria and Russia

  Turkey at risk of more confrontations with Syria and Russia Direct clashes between Turkish and Syrian troops amid a Syrian government offensive in the last rebel stronghold of Idlib province are threatening to escalate into a full-blown conflict between the two neighbors and also shatter an alliance forged between Turkey and Russia. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); Intent on halting the advance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to take military action "everywhere in Syria" if another Turkish soldier is killed or wounded.

Meanwhile, the fighting has unleashed a humanitarian crisis . Turkey - Syria conflict in Idlib escalates | DW News - Продолжительность: 3:51 DW News 131 918 просмотров.

Military activity and the humanitarian crisis both intensified Tuesday in the city of Idlib as Turkey and its allies clashed with Syrian forces, whose northward drive Syrian government warplanes struck Idlib's center Tuesday morning just hours after Turkish forces downed one of Syria 's Russian-made

Erdogan accused Russia and Assad's forces of directly targeting civilians in Idlib province — an accusation that Moscow swiftly denied while accusing terrorist groups of hiding behind a "human shield." The Syrian government has consistently denied targeting civilians throughout the conflict.

a group of people standing in the snow: Image: Internally displaced children © Khalil Ashawi Image: Internally displaced children

In a statement Wednesday, the Russian defense ministry blamed Turkey for "the crisis" in the Idlib de-escalation zone, accusing Ankara of failing to separate moderate opposition fighters from "terrorists." Syrian fighters sponsored and trained by Turkey include rebel fighters and Islamic extremists opposed to Assad, according to the Associated Press.

However, Ankara seemed to tone down its more bellicose rhetoric Thursday when Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey was sending additional troops to "enable a permanent cease-fire."

Syria: US troops open fire on locals in northeast, killing 1

  Syria: US troops open fire on locals in northeast, killing 1 A Syrian was killed and another was wounded in a rare clash Wednesday between American troops and a group of government supporters who tried to block a U.S. convoy driving through a village in northeastern Syria, state media and activists reported. © Provided by Associated Press In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, A Syrian man receives treatment after U.S. troops opened fire on locals who tried to block a U.S. convoy driving near the village Khirbet Ammu, east of Qamishli city, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. SANA said the locals had gathered at an army checkpoint, pelting the U.S.

The Idlib offensive has also triggered clashes between Syrian and Turkish troops in which 13 Turkish soldiers have died in one week. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that Turkey could attack Syrian government forces anywhere in Syria if another Turkish soldier is hurt.

Turkish -backed militias took ground quickly and ruthlessly, even executing Kurdish soldiers and civilians on the roadside. U.S. troops withdrawing from Syria as conflict escalates . Desperate Kurdish forces told CBS News they hoped their U.S. allies would step in.

"Force will be used against those who do not comply with the cease-fire," he added.

The humanitarian cost

Meanwhile, civilians are being caught in the fighting.

"Since the beginning of the year, over 200 people have been killed as a result of the violence — including at least 84 children," Misty Buswell, regional policy director for the IRC said in a statement.

And every day of violence causes more civilians to flee.

"In the last 24 hours, 20,000 people in Idlib packed their bags and fled to escape bombing," the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Mark Lowcok, wrote in an article for Britain's Daily Telegraph on Tuesday.

Most of them, he said, were women and children.

Since Dec. 1, nearly 800,000 people have been forcibly displaced in Idlib, an area roughly the size of Delaware, according to the United Nations. The IRC estimates that another 500,000 people remain in the firing line and will be displaced if violence continues.

And if the violence doesn't kill them, now the weather might.

Those on the move have been battling bitter temperatures that have dropped as low as —11 degrees Celsius ( 12 degrees Fahrenheit) in Idlib this week, with thousands sheltering in tents, unfinished buildings and their vehicles, according to the IRC.

Russian and Turkish Defense Ministers Discuss Syria’s Idlib

  Russian and Turkish Defense Ministers Discuss Syria’s Idlib Russian and Turkish defense ministers discussed the situation in Syria’s city of Idlib after leaders of both countries agreed intensify consultations. © AAREF WATAD/AFP via Getty Images Residents watch as a Turkish military convoy that crossed from the border with Syria, passes through the Syrian rebel-held town of Hazano in Idlib's northern countryside, on February 22, 2020.

Turkish and Syrian forces engaged in a deadly clash Monday in Syria 's northwestern Idlib province. The latest escalation in fighting comes as Ankara continues to reinforce its troops in Idlib, while Russian- Turkish diplomatic efforts to end the violence remain deadlocked.

The conflict in Syria has caused the biggest displacement crisis in the world. The UNHCR says more than 5.5 million Syrians live as refugees in the The United Nations estimates 2.8 million people in Syria ’s northwest conflict zone need humanitarian aid. The world body is appealing for 6 million

The U.N. said several children are reported to have died due to the freezing temperatures.

What do both sides hope to achieve?

Despite the dire humanitarian situation, there is no immediate sign of the violence abating as Assad, with Russia's help, battles to take back control of all Syrian territory.

The momentum in Syria is in Assad's favor as Russian-backed government forces have regained most of the country — securing Moscow's place as the kingmaker in the region.

Ankara and Moscow back opposing sides in the Syrian conflict but they have collaborated on finding a political solution to the war.

In the past, Russia has acted as a deal broker and de-conflicting actor for Turkey but this time it has been "conspicuously absent," said Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of "Erdogan's Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East."

"What the Russians are doing is trying to let the Assad regime take as much of Idlib as possible before they come in as the firefighters," he said.

Meanwhile, Erdogan's primary objective in Idlib is to ensure that there is not another large flow of Syrian refugees across the border into Turkey, analysts said.

Turkey is already struggling to cope with the some 3.7 million Syrians it currently hosts. And with its economy still fragile following the 2018 currency crisis it has become less welcoming of the new arrivals, many of whom compete with Turks for low-paid work, according to Fadi Hakura, a consulting fellow at Chatham House, an international affairs think tank in London.

Moreover, Erdogan has other goals in sight.

He has endeavored to promote regime change in Damascus since the start of the Syrian conflict and wants to sustain pressure on Assad, Hakura said, as well as securing Turkey's place at the negotiating table over the future of Syria.

"Erdogan has invested a vast amount of political capital and money in Syria from the beginning of the quagmire," said Hakura. "His return is diminishing more with time," he said, adding that it had even "backfired" as Turkey was now hosting millions of refugees.

"It's a bit like when you're gambling and you're losing you still want to continue in the hope that you can recoup your losses," he added.

Saphora Smith reported from London and Aziz Akyavas from Istanbul.

In Syria’s ravaged Idlib, Russian airstrikes underscore wider strategies in region .
Moscow is fully entrenched as Syria’s reliable military ally. The Kremlin is also courting NATO-member Turkey.That was from the Russian Foreign Ministry, only conceding a few tense hotspots, in its Jan. 23 briefing.

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