Syria crisis

Turkey says raised concerns with Russia envoy over violence surge in northwest Syria

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Turkey has expressed to Russia’s envoy its objections and concerns about a recent flare-up of violence in northwest Syria, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, after Russian jets hit towns near the Turkish border and a hospital in the region.

On Sunday, Russian jets hit a gas facility, a cement factory and towns and cities in the Idlib region near the border. Syrian army artillery killed seven civilians and injured 14 medics in an attack on a hospital in the area, opposition sources and witnesses said.

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Following the attacks, Turkey’s defense ministry had said a statement had been sent to Russia asking for the attacks to stop immediately and that Turkish troops had been alerted.

“A meeting was held with Russia’s Ambassador to Ankara at the ministry yesterday. The attacks in Syria were predominantly discussed. Our concerns and worries were conveyed,” the foreign ministry said.

“The hospital attack was emphasized too,” it said.

Last year, Turkey and Russia agreed a ceasefire in Idlib, halting the heaviest fighting around the region in years that displaced millions of people. Ankara and Moscow have since held several joint military patrols in the region under the deal.

Turkish officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the talks at the ministry were part of a planned meeting, adding that the Russian envoy was told the attack on the hospital was a new violation of the arrangement in Idlib and was unacceptable.

They said Russia’s military attache was summoned to the defense ministry over the matter.

Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, have been working toward a political solution to Syria’s decade-long conflict. Ankara has backed militants looking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia and Iran support al-Assad’s forces.

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