Turkish President Erdogan said the Syrian regime was using the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to ramp up violence in Syria's Idlib region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after cabinet meeting via videoconferencing in Istanbul, Turkey on April 20, 2020.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after cabinet meeting via videoconferencing in Istanbul, Turkey on April 20, 2020. (Murat Kula / AA)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the Syrian regime was violating a ceasefire in the northwestern Idlib region, warning that Damascus would suffer "heavy losses" if it persisted.

Speaking in Istanbul after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said the Syrian regime 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.

"While Turkey maintains its commitment to the March 5 [ceasefire] agreement with Russia, it will not allow any regime aggression. The regime will pay the price with heavy loses if it persists to violate the ceasefire and the agreement," Erdogan said.

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 to confrontation.

Support for Libya's government

The Turkish president also called to the international community to support Libya's legitimate government against warlord Khalifa Haftar who is warring Government of National Accord.

"Once again, we invite the international community to support the country's legitimate government against the putschist Haftar," Erdogan said.

Turkey and Libya's governments signed a deal in 2019, preventing Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration and other regional states from violating maritime boundaries and cutting Tripoli and Ankara out of the resource-rich areas of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Erdogan also stressed that some countries are unhappy from the Turkey and Libya maritime demarcation agreement in the Mediterranean.

"However, this memorandum was also notified to the United Nations and the process was completed," Erdogan said.

Libya slid into turmoil after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled former ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Since 2014 rival factions based in Tripoli and the east have vied for power.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies