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Turkey Lashes Out at Russia and Iran over Assad De-Escalation Zone Violation

SOCHI, RUSSIA MAY 17, 2018: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (not in picture) at Bocharov Ruchei residence. Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images)
Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu blamed Syrian regime allies Russia and Iran, as well as the United States, on Friday for dictator Bashar al-Assad’s bombardment of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other rebel forces in southern Syria in violation of the de-escalation zone established by Moscow and Washington.

On June 23, the Assad regime launched an air assault to recover territory in and around Daraa province, primarily controlled by the Turkey-backed FSA, but it also includes pockets of land held by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

Assad troops army launched a ground assault this week to complement the Russia-backed air assault in Daraa, a strategic area that borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu concluded that the U.S., Russia, and Iran are guilty of Assad’s actions in southern Syria by association, telling Turkish broadcaster NTV, according to the state-owned Anadolu Agency (AA):

Syria regime guarantor countries are Iran and Russia, opposition’s guarantor country is Turkey. Then the U.S. and Russia made the de-conflict zone deal. The Assad regime attacked those areas, who did the agreements? U.S. and Russia. If those deals are broken, then Geneva, Astana, Sochi meetings [to discuss ending the Syrian conflict] will be irrelevant.

The Assad regime’s offensive to retake Daraa has forced tens of thousands to leave the area and forced at least three hospitals to shut down, the United Nations and the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported this week.

“Over the past week, nearly 50,000 people fled their homes in northern Dara’a to escape bombardment, finding shelter in makeshift camps in the south of the governorate as well as in Quneitra governorate. Retaliatory shelling is also affecting the neighboring governorate of Swaida,” the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) noted in a statement issued Tuesday.

SOHR, which uses a network of ground sources to monitor the conflict in Syria, added that the Russian-backed air assault by the Assad regime has forced up to four hospitals to close down.

“The United Nations warned on Tuesday that 750,000 lives are in danger in Daraa, and 45,000 people have been displaced,” AA noted.

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