Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke over the phone on Tuesday and discussed the latest developments in northwestern Syria.
According to a statement by the Turkish Communications Directorate, the leaders discussed bilateral ties, developments in Syria’s Idlib province and refugee issues.
Pakistan, for its part, also issued a statement and said Khan “conveyed heartfelt sympathies and condolences on the loss of lives of a number of soldiers in the attack in Idlib.”
The Pakistani prime minister “reaffirmed support for Turkey’s legitimate security and humanitarian concerns in the region and also lauded Turkey’s humanitarian assistance, including through hosting millions of Syrian refugees.”
Pakistan “fully” supported Turkish efforts in its fight against terrorism, it added.
Turkish parliament starts closed session on Idlib, Syria
Just days after Turkey began a new operation in Idlib, northwestern Syria in the wake of Assad regime attacks there on Turkish soldiers, Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday started to hold a closed session on the situation in the embattled province.National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu are both set to address lawmakers in the closed session on Idlib, which lies just across Turkey's southern border.Among those set to attend the session are Vice President Fuat Oktay, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli.Under parliamentary bylaws, the session’s proceedings will remain under seal for a decade.Europe should respect international law, says Turkish FMTop Turkish diplomat, NATO chief discuss Idlib, SyriaAnkara on Sunday launched Operation Spring Shield after 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred last week in Idlib, the last stronghold of opposition forces in Syria.The Turkish troops were there to protect local civilians under a September 2018 deal with Russia which prohibits acts of aggression in Idlib.However, Assad and Russian forces in the de-escalation zone continue to violate the cease-fire, sending about a million refugees towards Turkey's border with Syria since last December.Turkey is already hosting close to 4 million Syrian refugees as well as migrants from other countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.EU has not fulfilled its promises, says Turkish FM
Russian, regime strikes kill 12 civilians in Idlib, Syria
At least 12 civilians were killed when the Assad regime and Russian assaults targeted Idlib, a de-escalation zone in northern Syria, local sources said on Tuesday.Russian and regime fighter jets hit Idlib city center, Binnish town and Sahil Roj region, the White Helmets, a civil defense agency, said.It also said four children were among nine fatalities in rocket attack hitting Idlib.According to Syrian opposition groups' aircraft monitors, the attacks killed a civilian in Binnish.Idlib is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.In recent months, nearly 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks by forces of the Assad regime and its allies.In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression were expressly prohibited.But since then, more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in airstrikes and shelling by the regime and its allies.On Sunday, Turkey announced a new offensive, Operation Spring Shield, in northwestern Syria to protect civilians from regime attacks.It came after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred and dozens injured in a regime airstrike in Idlib on Feb. 27.
Europe should respect international law, says Turkish FM
Greece and EU countries should respect international law in treating refugees, Turkish foreign minister said on Tuesday.“Turkey has met its requirements arising out of the Geneva Convention and of course, we will continue to do that. But we have seen so far, unfortunately, the borders are closed and the asylum seekers have been suspended, which is against international law,” said Mevlut Cavusoglu in a press conference with his British counterpart Dominic Raab in the capital Ankara. “Greece and the European Union countries are trying to escape from their international responsibilities, but they should really not,” Cavusoglu stressed.“We do not have an obligation to forcefully keep anyone in Turkey,” he added.But the “European countries have an obligation to receive the international protection applications of the asylum seekers who turn up at their doors and to provide protection to those that are eligible, just as Turkey fulfilled this obligation,” said Cavusoglu."The latest developments in Idlib have further increased the existing migratory pressure on our country. We have expressed in various platforms that our country cannot take a new migratory flow. And we have also asked for solidarity.The international community, unfortunately, turned a deaf ear to these calls," he also said.“We see the borders are being closed off, the asylum applications are being suspended in a way that is against international law,” he noted.Cavusoglu also called on the EU institutions to respect the common values of Europe and protect the human rights of the asylum seekers.Video: Greek police fire tear gas at refugees on Turkish border'Concerned' by Russia, regime's actionsFor his part, Raab said: “The first and overriding responsibility for humanitarian suffering is the Syrian regime and Russia.“We are gravely concerned by the significant escalation in military action by Russia and the Syria regime in the northwest, we condemn these actions as flagrant violations of international law and indeed, basic human decency,” he added.Raab also voiced support for Turkey’s efforts to reestablish the cease-fire and “to protect those innocent civilians fleeing the regime’s monstrous assault,” in Idlib.“The Syrian conflict has been one of the most destructive in recent human history. And we want the war to end as quickly as possible.“Only a political settlement in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 can deliver lasting peace in Syria,” Raab added. Raab also said the U.K. is boosting some 89 million pounds ($113.8 million) to organizations who are delivering humanitarian aid inside Syria and Idlib.He also conveyed his condolences to Turkey after a regime attack martyred 34 Turkish soldiers in Idlib, northwestern Syria, on Feb. 27.Referring to the period after Brexit, Raab said a free trade agreement in 2020 will be the U.K.’s priority and said his country will work closely with Turkey on areas such as defense, security, and trade.“I think that [Brexit] would be a major contribution to a strong Turkey-UK economic relationship and help boost our trading partnership, which is already worth around 18 billion pounds each year,” he added.'Migrants leaving Turkey to reach Europe over 130,000'Top Turkish diplomat, NATO chief discuss Idlib, Syria
EU fails to honor refugee deal
The European Union continues to flout a refugee deal it signed with Turkey nearly four years ago.The agreement on March 16, 2016, pledged visa-free travel to Turkish citizens along with financial support, resettlement, and revising of the Customs Union.The EU stated “the fulfillment of the visa liberalization roadmap will be accelerated with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016. Turkey will take all the necessary steps to fulfill the remaining requirements.”The EU listed 72 criteria as a requirement for Turkey to fulfill and so far, only six criteria remain to be met – one of which is considered highly controversial by the Turkish side.According to the EU, Turkey must revise its “legislation and practices on terrorism in line with European standards" in order for visa liberalization for Turkish citizens to be approved.However, Turkey expects EU to be more lenient regarding this criterion especially after the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016.Video: Greek police fire tear gas at refugees on Turkish borderPromised funds...Aside from the visa liberalization, the EU also promised €6 billion in financial assistance to the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian refugees and Turkey agreed to help stop irregular migrants from heading to Europe.All of the funds were to be transferred by 2018-end, but Turkey has so far not received even half of that amount.Turkey already hosts close to 4 million migrants from Syria alone, more than any other country in the world, and has spent over $40 billion (€36 billion) for the refugees.The EU-Turkey deal also pledged "the accession process will be re-energized, with Chapter 33 opened during the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union and preparatory work on the opening of other chapters to continue at an accelerated pace."Turkey’s accession process to the EU is close to stalemate as no new chapters were opened since June 30, 2016. EU also used the conflict in Turkey’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean as an excuse to halt high-level talks.Under the same deal, the EU also pledged “upgrading of the Customs Union”, however Brussels continues to be reluctant toward meeting this pledge as well.It is no secret that the agreement prevented the loss of many lives but also significantly reduced the number of crossings in the Aegean Sea. Since the signing of the deal, the migration flow to Europe has decreased by 97%.
Turkey downs Assad regime's warplane in Syria
Turkey shot down an L-39 warplane belonging to the Assad regime as part of the ongoing Operation Spring Shield in northern Syria, the country’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.The ministry also gave out its 24-hour update on the Operation Spring Shield, saying 327 Syrian regime soldiers were neutralized, and 1 jet, 1 UAV, 6 tanks, 5 howitzer/rocket launchers and 2 air defense systems destroyed.On Sunday, Turkey announced a new offensive, Operation Spring Shield, in Idlib, northwestern Syria.It came after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred and dozens injured in an Assad regime airstrike in the Idlib de-escalation zone, just across Turkey’s southern border, on Feb. 27.Başarıyla devam eden Bahar Kalkanı Harekatı kapsamında Rejime ait bir L-39 tipi savaş uçağı düşürülmüştür.— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) March 3, 2020