Menekse Tokyay, Ankara
Over 800,000 Syrians, the vast majority women and children, have fled their homes from a relentless Russian-led Syrian military campaign in northwest Syria since Dec. 1, David Swanson, a senior UN spokesperson, said on Thursday.
The head of the International Rescue Committee aid group warned that the fighting around an opposition holdout is a “clear and present threat” to regional peace.
David Miliband said that President Bashar Assad’s offensive on Idlib was creating a “Gaza in Syria” with millions of people crammed into a tiny space beset with violence.
Separately, Syria’s parliament recognized the 1915-1917 killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, as tensions run high with Turkey after deadly clashes in northwest Syria.
The move comes after weeks of tensions between Ankara and Damascus over deadly clashes between their forces in Syria.
Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund of the US, said Erdogan has responded to escalation by changing the rules of engagement.
“Assad has not fought a regular battle against a state actor since the beginning of the conflict. With the ongoing deployments in Syria, Turkey is building a force that is clearly superior to Assad’s,” he told Arab News.
“Erdogan feels he can cope with the Russia factor thanks to strong support from the US. Not only is Turkey not isolated in Idlib, but it could also decrease its overall isolation through its bold policy in the region,” Unluhisarcikli said.