Talking about the situation in Syria's Idlib, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey wants to solve the issue with Russia through diplomacy but will take other steps if necessary.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu talk to the media after a meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 15, 2020.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu talk to the media after a meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 15, 2020. (Reuters)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar on Saturday of constantly violating a ceasefire in the country, saying he "must be stopped" so a political solution could be found.

Turkey backs the internationally-recognised government of Fayez al Serraj in Libya and has sent military personnel to the country in support of Serraj. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also warned that Ankara may deploy troops there if necessary.

Speaking at a news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Munich Security Conference, Cavusoglu said that Haftar, who is based in east Libya, wanted a military solution to the conflict rather than a political one.

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in east, supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and another in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

Violence in the war-torn country has seen an increase after Haftar’s forces launched an offensive to take Tripoli last April but the UN-recognised government has been able to keep them restricted to the city’s outskirts.

Talks with Russia on Idlib

Turkey wants to solve issues with Russia over the northwestern Syrian region of Idlib through diplomacy but will take other steps if necessary, Cavusoglu said during the news conference. 

"The Turkish delegation on Monday will attend talks in Moscow [on Idlib, Syria]," he told reporters.

The Turkish foreign minister added that he would also meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later on Saturday.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on January 12.

More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.

Turkey remains the country with the most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million migrants since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies