Erdogan accuses Syria regime of undermining Turkey-Russia deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the attacks risked undermining the fate of the political process in Syria. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2019
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Erdogan accuses Syria regime of undermining Turkey-Russia deal

  • Clashes in Idlib province in northwestern Syria have killed at least 42 fighters in 24 hours
  • The offensive by President Bashar Assad’s forces ‘sought to sabotage Turkish-Russian cooperation’

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Syrian regime of “seeking to sabotage” Ankara’s relationship with Russia through its latest offensive in the northwest of the war-torn country.
Clashes in Idlib province in northwestern Syria have killed at least 42 fighters in 24 hours, a monitor said Monday, and the regime bombardment on the region has devastated health services.
Idlib’s three million inhabitants are supposed to be protected by a buffer zone deal signed last September by Russia and Turkey.
Erdogan told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during a phone call late on Monday that the offensive by President Bashar Assad’s forces “sought to sabotage Turkish-Russian cooperation,” according to Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, on Twitter.
The readout of the phone call made no mention of the fact that Russian forces are involved in the Syrian offensive.
Russia and Turkey are on opposing sides of the conflict, with Moscow strongly supporting Assad, while Ankara has called for his ouster and supported Syrian rebels in the civil war since it began in 2011.
However, Turkey and Russia have worked closely, along with Iran, to find a political solution to the conflict.
Erdogan lamented that “the regime’s cease-fire violations targeting the Idlib de-escalation zone over the last two weeks have reached an alarming dimension.”
He said it was impossible to explain it as a counter-terror effort given the number of casualties and damage to health services.
The Turkish leader also warned that the attacks risked undermining the fate of the political process in Syria.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, controls most of Idlib province as well as parts of neighboring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 loyalists and 19 militants died between Sunday and Monday in clashes in the area of Jabal Al-Akrad in Latakia province, which lies on the bastion’s northwestern edge.
Russian and regime aircraft bombarded the area on Monday, while they also hit southern parts of the militant stronghold, said the Britain-based war monitor.
HTS and its allies launched a counter-attack late Monday, bombing areas in the north of the province and sparking fierce clashes on the ground, according to the Observatory.
The civil war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.


Egypt accuses UN of seeking to ‘politicize’ Morsi death

Updated 29 min 15 sec ago
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Egypt accuses UN of seeking to ‘politicize’ Morsi death

  • Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said the UN is trying to politicize a natural death
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an independent investigation into the death of Morsi

CAIRO: Egypt accused the United Nations on Wednesday of seeking to “politicize” the death of the country’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi by calling for an “independent inquiry.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the call by the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, for an independent investigation into Morsi’s death during a court hearing on Monday.

Hafez said it was a “deliberate attempt to politicize a case of natural death.”

Colville called Tuesday for a probe into whether the conditions Morsi faced during his nearly six years in custody had contributed to his death.

“Any sudden death in custody must be followed by a prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body to clarify the cause of death,” he said.

“Concerns have been raised regarding the conditions of Mr. Morsi’s detention, including access to adequate medical care, as well as sufficient access to his lawyers and family,” Colville added.

He said the investigation must “encompass all aspects of the authorities’ treatment of Mr. Morsi to examine whether the conditions of his detention had an impact on his death.”

Morsi was toppled by then army chief, now President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2013 after a single divisive year in power. He was later charged with an array of offenses including espionage.

Since his ouster, authorities have waged an ongoing crackdown on dissent of all kinds that has seen thousands of Brotherhood supporters jailed and hundreds facing death sentences.

A group of British parliamentarians in March 2018 warned Morsi’s detention conditions, particularly inadequate treatment for his diabetes and liver disease, could trigger “premature death.”