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Turkey steps up efforts to stop all-out assault on Syria’s Idlib

Turkey hopes a working group with Russia will ease attacks on Syria’s last rebel-controlled territory, but will convincing Russia require concessions in other foreign policy objectives?
TOPSHOT - A member of the Syrian Civil Defence (White Helmets) inspects the rubble following shelling by Syrian regime forces and their allies on a the village of Maarit Sin in the countryside of the rebel-held Idlib province on May 11, 2019. (Photo by OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — Turkey is intensifying diplomatic efforts with Russia to deescalate violence in the northwest Syrian province of Idlib, its foreign minister said Wednesday, as it seeks to stave off an all-out assault on the opposition’s last stronghold that could spark a humanitarian disaster.

Moscow and Ankara support opposing sides in Syria’s eight-year conflict but have worked together to move the warring parties toward a political resolution. Their efforts include agreeing to a demilitarized zone last year for Idlib, which is controlled by militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and where more than 3 million civilians are sheltering from the war.

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