February 28, 2020 / 3:15 PM / a month ago

France calls on Syria, Russia to end offensive, offers Turkey help on refugees

FILE PHOTO: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a side event of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 24, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

PARIS (Reuters) - France on Friday called on Russia and the Syrian government to end their offensive in northwestern Syria and said Europe was ready to reinforce its assistance to help Turkey handle Syrian refugees.

“I reiterated France’s call to the Syrian regime and to Russia to end the military offensive in the northwest of Syria, to fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to return to the ceasefire arrangements of autumn 2018 to immediately end the hostilities,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement after talks with Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu.

After 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria on Thursday, Ankara said earlier in the day that it would not prevent thousands of refugees stuck in the country from heading to Europe.

“I welcomed the efforts made by the neighbours of Syria, and Turkey in particular, to provide assistance to the Syrian refugees and I reiterated our determination to mobilise reinforced humanitarian assistance, at the national level and with the European Union and its member states,” Le Drian said.

Reporting by John Irish; editing be Leigh Thomas

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