Turkey calls for end to Syrian forces offensive on Idlib

May 10, 2019
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FILE - This September 14, 2018 file photo, protesters wave revolutionary Syrian and Turkish flags as they attend a demonstration against the Syrian government offensive in Idlib, in Maarat al-Numan, south of Idlib, Syria. After eight months of relative calm, Idlib is once again a theater for bloody military operations as Syrian government troops, backed by Russia, push their way into the rebel-held enclave in a widening offensive. The violence in May 2019 threatens to completely unravel a crumbling cease-fire agreement reached between Turkey and Russia last September. (Ugur Can/DHA via AP, File)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar is accusing the Syrian government of trying to expand its field of control in Idlib province in violation of a Russian-Turkish cease-fire brokered last September.

Akar called on Friday for the government attacks to be halted. He made the comments during a visit to Turkey’s border with Syria where he inspected troops, together with the country’s top military commanders.

Rebel groups are battling Syrian government forces to regain territory they lost in the northwest area of Idlib earlier this week.

The latest wave of fighting is the most serious challenge to the cease-fire.

Akar said, “the Syrian regime must end attacks south of Idlib and withdraw to the boundaries delineated under the Astana Process,” in reference to the Turkish-Russian cease-fire agreement.