President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the ongoing evacuation process in eastern Aleppo as Obama asked how he could help ease the situation, the Turkish president said on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor, Erdoğan said he has held many conversations with his Russian counterpart Putin as well as German Chancellor Merkel and President Obama to find a way to safely evacuate civilians and implement a cease-fire in Aleppo.
"We discussed the ongoing evacuation problem ... Obama asked me how he could help, and I explained it to him."
Erdoğan said the two leaders also discussed the recent developments in Iraq with President Obama as he told Obama that they will carry some responsibility if an unwanted situation arises in Iraq's Tal Afar and Sinjar.
A statement released by the president's office following Erdoğan's comments said that the two leaders agreed that a political solution was needed in Syria to stop the ongoing clashes.
Obama also told Erdoğan that he appreciated Turkey's efforts to safely evacuate opposition members and civilians from Aleppo under the international humanitarian aid agencies' watch.
On Tuesday evening, regime forces and opposition groups agreed to a Turkey-brokered cease-fire deal with a view to evacuating civilians from the eastern part of the city.
The first evacuation convoy, carrying sick and injured people, left eastern Aleppo on early Thursday morning, however, it was attacked by militia groups backed by Iran, as well as regime forces.
According to local reports, four people were killed and several were injured when Iran-backed Shiite militias opened fire on the convoy.
The convoy of 20 buses was carrying at least 200 injured people with over 50 in critical condition, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter at the scene of the attack.
After the cease-fire was violated, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif two times over the phone.
Violence escalated in Aleppo city on Monday when Syrian regime forces advanced into opposition-held parts of eastern parts of the city following a five-month siege and persistent aerial bombardment.
The Russian-backed regime had been trying to reestablish control over parts of Aleppo captured four years ago by armed opposition groups.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011 when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests-which had erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings-with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed by the conflict and millions more displaced.
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