German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the situation in Idlib, Syria, is becoming a humanitarian disaster.
“The situation in Idlib is now seriously deteriorating and is becoming a humanitarian catastrophe”, – said Maas in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
German Foreign Minister said that, despite the agreement between Russia and Turkey on de-escalation, “unfortunately, we are rather experiencing the opposite situation”. Maas added that Russia should use its influence on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and stressed the need for a political solution.
“We are doing our best to contribute to de-escalation and help people on the ground. The refugees would first come to Turkey, where three million refugees already live. That would make the humanitarian situation there even worse. We must do our best to avoid such an exacerbation”, – the German minister said, answering the question whether he was afraid of a new wave of refugees.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier that he had called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the offensive in the province of Idlib and to withdraw from Turkish observation points before the end of February, threatening otherwise with a military response.
According to the agreement reached at the May 2017 talks in Astana (now Nur-Sultan) by representatives of Russia, Iran and Turkey, four de-escalation zones were established in Syria. The territory of three of these zones was taken over by Damascus in 2018. The fourth zone, located in the province of Idlib and parts of the neighbouring provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, remains outside the government’s control. However, most of it has been seized by terrorists from the banned organization Jabhat al-Nusra. In September 2018, Russia and Turkey agreed in Sochi to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib, where more than a dozen different formations are located.