U.S President Donald Trump discussed the escalating tensions in Syria’s Idlib province in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday, the White House said in a readout.
It said Trump expressed his concern about the humanitarian situation in Idlib, the last rebel-held province in Syria, and thanked Erdoğan for “Turkey’s efforts to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe”.
Turkey stepped up its military presence in Idlib after 13 Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor were killed by shelling by Syrian government forces this month. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s renewed offensive on Idlib, backed by Russia, has driven hundreds of thousands of Syrians towards Turkey’s border.
“President Trump conveyed the United States’ desire to see an end to Russia’s support for the Assad regime’s atrocities and for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict,” the White House said.
Syrian government forces and their Russian allies began to bombard the province in April, in spite of a Turkish-Russian deal signed in September 2018 to prevent an operation against the province. Russia said the Turkish side had not lived up to its side of the deal and had failed to clear a de-escalation zone of extreme jihadist groups.
Trump and Erdoğan also discussed developments in Libya, where Turkey has sent a limited number of its own troops and thousands of Syrian fighters to help defend the U.N.-recognised government in Tripoli against a siege by eastern rivals backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France, and Russian mercenaries.
“President Trump also reiterated that continued foreign interference in Libya would only serve to worsen the situation,” the readout said.