Turkish President Erdogan "doesn’t want people to be killed by the thousands, and hundreds of thousands," says US President Trump.

Internally displaced Syrians from western Aleppo countryside, ride on the back of a truck with belongings in Hazano near Idlib, Syria, February 11, 2020.
Internally displaced Syrians from western Aleppo countryside, ride on the back of a truck with belongings in Hazano near Idlib, Syria, February 11, 2020. (Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to ensure a humanitarian catastrophe does not befall northwest Syria's Idlib province, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday.

"He’s fighting on Idlib," Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One. "He doesn’t want people to be killed by the thousands, and hundreds of thousands."

Trump said Washington and Ankara are "working together" to determine what can be done amid a Syrian regime offensive backed by Russia and Iran that the UN said has led to the displacement of 900,000 people already.

"You have a lot of warring going on right now, a lot of warring going on, but I am dealing with President Erdogan," Trump said.

Mark Lowcock, the UN's humanitarian affairs chief, said on Monday that "indiscriminate" violence in the region reached "a horrifying new level" since the regime offensive began in December and he demanded the Security Council take action to avoid the catastrophe of historical proportions.

"The biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st century will only be avoided if Security Council members, and those with influence, overcome individual interests and put a collective stake in humanity first. The only option is a ceasefire," he said.

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

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

The Syrian regime's advances have sent hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing toward the border with Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.7 million refugees.

Source: AA