ANKARA (AA) - French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has condemned Thursday's deadly attack on Turkish soldiers in Syria in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart.
"I offered him [Mevlut Cavusoglu] France’s condolences and support for Turkey in the aftermath of yesterday’s attack on Turkish forces in northwestern Syria," Le Drian said in a Friday statement.
“I condemned the repeated violations by the Syrian regime and Russia of their commitments regarding de-escalation in the province of Idlib and of international humanitarian law,” he added.
He reiterated France's call to the Syrian regime and Russia to end the military offensive and abide by the relevant cease-fire deals.
He called on Russia to continue negotiations with Turkey to restart the political process aimed at solving the Syrian crisis.
The French top diplomat praised Turkey's efforts in hosting Syrian refugees.
"I applauded the efforts by Syria’s neighbors, and Turkey in particular, to provide assistance to Syrian refugees, and I reiterated our determination to mobilize strengthened humanitarian assistance, both nationally and with the European Union and its member states."
At least 33 Turkish soldiers were martyred and dozens of others injured late on Thursday in an airstrike by Assad regime forces in the Idlib de-escalation zone, just across Turkey’s southern border.
The Turkish soldiers are working to protect local civilians under a September 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.
But more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by Assad and Russian forces in the zone since then, as the cease-fire continues to be violated.
The attacks on Turkish troops in Idlib have surged in recent weeks as the regime and its allies continue flouting the cease-fire.
Turkey has pledged that such assaults would not go unanswered.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.
More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks.
Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the world’s top refugee hosting country.