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Trump, Turkey call for Russia to stop backing Syrian ‘atrocities’

AFP
Washington
President Donald Trump has called for Russia to end its support for the Syrian regime’s “atrocities” as he expressed US concern over violence in the Idlib region, the White House said on Sunday.
Turkey’s foreign minister also pressed his Russian counterpart over the attacks by Damascus on the last rebel-held bastion in the country.
Backed by Russian air power, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made fresh gains Sunday as he intensified his assault on the holdout northwestern province of Idlib. In a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump “expressed concern over the violence in Idlib, Syria and... conveyed the United States’ desire to see an end to Russia’s support for the Assad regime’s atrocities.”
Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib as part of a 2018 deal reached between Ankara and Moscow to prevent a regime offensive, but Syrian regime forces have pressed ahead regardless. Four of the Turkish posts are believed to be encircled by Syrian forces, and Ankara has threatened to attack Damascus if they do not retreat by the end of February.
“I stressed that the attacks in Idlib must stop and it was necessary to establish a lasting ceasefire that would not be violated,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists at the Munich Security Conference, after he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Rebel supporter Turkey and Damascus ally Russia have worked closely on Syria in recent years despite being on opposing sides of the nine-year conflict.
A Turkish delegation will head to Moscow on today, after Russian officials visited Ankara last weekend but failed to reach a concrete deal.