Turkey opposes Idlib offensive at UN

United Nations: Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the UN Feridun Sinirlioglu has voiced opposition to the looming offensive on Idlib, Syria, the last rebel-held stronghold in the war-torn country.

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has underlined the need to preserve the de-escalation area and called for an immediate and complete ceasefire in Idlib,” Sinirlioglu told the Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

At a summit last week involving Russia, Iran and Turkey there was a major point of divergence on whether to launch an offensive on Idlib.

While Russia and Iran proposed the military option, Turkey, which backs some of the opposition groups in Idlib, opposed it.

“Our calls for an immediate ceasefire include all military operations and Turkey will continue to work on this basis,” Xinhua quoted Sinirlioglu as saying.

Idlib is the only remaining one of the four de-escalation areas created by the Astana process initiated by the three countries in 2017 in Kazakhstan.

“In a complex place like Idlib, traditional counter-terrorism methods would not yield the desired results. On the contrary, they would create further suffering, alienate and radicalise more Syrians,” Sinirlioglu said.

He also said a military assault on Idlib “would trigger a massive wave of refugees and tremendous security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond”.

The UN has warned that a military operation in Idlib is likely to put the lives of some three million people, including one million children, in jeopardy.

“Only a viable ceasefire would allow the creation of an environment to effectively fight terrorism,” Sinirlioglu said.