February 28, 2020 / 5:55 PM / in a month

Trump, in call with Erdogan, backs Turkey and urges end to violence in Syria's Idlib

WASHINGTON/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump, in a call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, backed de-escalation of violence in northwestern Syria and called on the Syrian government, Russia and Iran to halt their offences, the White House said.

“Trump reaffirmed his support for Turkey’s efforts to de-escalate the situation in northwest Syria and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said, following the death of 33 Turkish soldiers in an attack by Russian-backed Syrian forces in Syria’s Idlib province.

“The two leaders agreed that the Syrian regime, Russia, and the Iranian regime must halt their offensive before more innocent civilians are killed and displaced,” Deere added in the statement.

The Turkish communications directorate earlier said on Twitter the two leaders discussed developments in the region and agreed by phone on the need to take additional steps to deal with the humanitarian drama in Idlib, where nearly 1 million people have been displaced by the latest fighting.

Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Daren Butler in Istanbul; additional writing by Susan Heavey; editing by John Stonestreet and David Gregorio

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