During the phone call with his Russian counterpart, Turkey's President Erdogan said that the crisis in Idlib can only be resolved by fully implementing the Sochi memorandum of understanding.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) as they enter a hall during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, November 13, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) as they enter a hall during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, November 13, 2017. (AP Archive)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a phone call to stop the Syrian regime's offensive in the last opposition stronghold of Idlib, his office said.

"The president during the call stressed that the regime should be restrained in Idlib and that the humanitarian crisis must be stopped," the Turkish presidency said in a statement after the two leaders spoke.

The two leaders also reiterated their commitments to existing agreements on Syria.

During the phone call, President Erdogan said that the crisis in Idlib can only be resolved by fully implementing the Sochi memorandum of understanding.

The two leaders also agreed to intensify contacts over Idlib, the Kremlin said.

The two leaders also discussed the developments in Libya.

The UN says 900,000 people — more than half of them children — have been displaced in "horrendous conditions" since December 1, when the regime began its offensive to capture Idlib, the country's last opposition and rebel-held area.

Idlib falls within a de-confliction zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in late 2018.

The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the ceasefire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory where acts of aggression are prohibited.

The Syrian regime offensive has disrupted Ankara and Moscow's fragile cooperation, after more than a dozen Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian regime attacks this month.

Turkey retaliated and said it had killed scores of regime troops and destroyed dozens of Assad forces' targets.

Turkey's President Erdogan had also called for Syrian regime forces to retreat behind Turkey's military posts in Idlib, which were set up under a 2018 deal with Russia designed to hold off a regime advance.

Syria's nearly nine-year war has killed an estimated 400,000 Syrians, displaced millions more, and left much of the country in ruins.

Source: AFP