Pope calls for respect of humanitarian law in Syria’s Idlib amid escalation

Pope Francis led a crowd in a special spontaneous prayer “for this beloved and martyred Syria.” (File/AFP)
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Updated 09 February 2020

Pope calls for respect of humanitarian law in Syria’s Idlib amid escalation

  • He said the reports from Idlib were “painful ... particularly regarding the conditions of women and children, of people forced to flee from a military escalation”
  • Turkey has reinforced its military presence in the area, saying the advances by Russian-backed Syrian troops and their allies threaten a fresh humanitarian disaster

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis called on Sunday for respect of humanitarian law in Syria’s Idlib province, amid an escalation of a Syrian government offensive that has displaced more than half a million in two months.
He told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s square that the reports from Idlib were “painful ... particularly regarding the conditions of women and children, of people forced to flee from a military escalation.”
Turkey has reinforced its military presence in the area, saying the advances by Russian-backed Syrian troops and their allies threaten a fresh humanitarian disaster.
The crisis risks driving another wave of potential refugees to Turkey’s southern border, and Ankara has threatened to act unless there is a pull back.
“I renew my heartfelt appeal to the international community and all parties involved to use diplomatic means, dialogue and negotiations, in respect of international humanitarian law, to safeguard the lives and fate of civilians,” Pope Francis said.
He then led the crowd in a special spontaneous prayer “for this beloved and martyred Syria.”
Turkey and Russia support opposing sides in Syria’s nearly nine-year civil war, but have forged a series of agreements since 2017 aimed at containing the bloodshed.
Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees and President Tayyip Erdogan threatened this week to repel the Russian-backed Syrian forces unless they withdraw from the region.


Turkey, Russia seal deal for Karabakh ‘peacekeeping center’

Updated 01 December 2020

Turkey, Russia seal deal for Karabakh ‘peacekeeping center’

  • The deal comes after days of talks between Turkish and Russian officials about how the two regional powers would jointly implement a Moscow-brokered cease-fire
  • Technical details for setting up the joint center were concluded and an agreement was signed

ANKARA: Turkey and Russia have agreed to monitor a truce over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region from a joint peacekeeping center, Ankara’s defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The deal comes after days of talks between Turkish and Russian officials about how the two regional powers would jointly implement a Moscow-brokered cease-fire signed this month between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Technical details for setting up the joint center were concluded and an agreement was signed, the defense ministry said in a statement, adding that it would begin work “as soon as possible.”
Turkey is a staunch ally of Azerbaijan and has fervently defended its right to take back the Nagorno-Karabakh lands Baku lost to ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1988-94 war.
The truce deal ended more than six weeks of fighting that claimed more than 1,400 lives and saw ethnic Armenians agree to withdraw from large parts of the contested region of Azerbaijan.
The Turkish parliament voted this month to deploy a mission to “establish a joint center with Russia and to carry out the center’s activities.”
The deployment is set to last a year and its size will be determined by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Russia has said repeatedly that Turkey will have no troops on the ground under the truce deal’s terms.