Turkish, US defense chiefs meet in Brussels, discuss Syria, Iraq

Published 12.02.2020 19:06
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar R and his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper. AA PHOTO
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (R) and his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper. (AA PHOTO)

Turkish and U.S. defense ministers on Wednesday discussed the situation in Syria and Iraq on the sidelines of the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels.

Hulusi Akar and Mark Esper agreed that NATO and the U.S. should take more concrete steps in the region, during the closed-door meeting.

Prior to the main meeting, Akar expressed content with statements by U.S. officials regarding Idlib.

At least five Turkish troops were martyred and five injured in an attack by Assad regime forces in Syria's Idlib earlier this week.

That followed last week's attack by regime forces in Idlib which killed seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military. It also injured more than a dozen people.

In retaliation, Turkey neutralized more than 120 Assad regime military personnel since last week.

The Turkish military and the Syrian National Army (SNA) recently launched an operation in Idlib as the number of Turkish casualties rose to 13 in attacks launched by the Bashar Assad regime.

Ankara and Moscow agreed last year in Sochi to stop acts of aggression and turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone, which was to be monitored by 12 Turkish observation points.

However, the regime, Iran-backed militia groups and Russia have consistently violated the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the de-escalation zone. Three observation points in the region – point seven, eight, and nine – are currently under siege by regime forces.

Syrian regime forces have continued to pound Idlib as part of an offensive that has killed 300 civilians since December and displaced 520,000 people.

More than 1.5 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.

Turkey remains the country with the most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million migrants since the start of the Syrian civil war.

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