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World News

Turkey's Erdogan accuses Syrian government of violating Idlib ceasefire

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint news conference in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the Syrian government was violating a ceasefire in the northwestern Idlib region, warning that Damascus would suffer “heavy losses” if it persisted.

Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in Syria’s war, agreed on March 5 to halt hostilities in northwestern Syria after an escalation of clashes there displaced nearly a million people and brought the two sides close to confrontation.

Speaking in Istanbul after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said the Syrian government was using the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to ramp up violence in Idlib, and added that Turkey would not allow any “dark groups” in the region to violate the ceasefire either.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Gareth Jones

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