By Dilara Hamit
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey has not violated the Sochi ceasefire deal agreed with Russia in Syria’s Idlib province, unlike the Assad regime, a Turkish official said Monday.
Speaking at a press conference in Ankara, Omer Celik, spokesman for the country’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said the regime has violated the ceasefire more than 20,000 times through attacks on civil infrastructure.
Celik said it is not just the violations of the Sochi agreement but also Russia's promises being violated by the regime.
Turkey sent its troops to Idlib as part of agreements with Russia – the 2017 Astana and 2018 Sochi accords – which sought de-escalation. But forces of the regime, its allies and militias loyal to it continue to violate the ceasefire.
Celik said around 1,500 civilians have been killed and since 2019, nearly 1,640,000 people have been displaced.
He noted that re-establishment of the truce in Idlib is one of the most important missions of the Turkish Armed Forces as well as the fight against terrorism.
More than 690,000 women and children have been displaced and have been moving to the Turkish border, he said, adding Turkey took measures to address the issue and most of the people have taken refuge in the towns of Afrin, Azaz and Al Bab in northern Aleppo province.
Celik cited a statement by the World Health Organization that 53 health centers and 26 vaccine centers had terminated their activities due to the regime’s attacks and doctors had moved to safer locations.
Stating that 1,227 humanitarian aid initiatives were carried out in January through the border crossings at Oncupinar and Cilvegozu in Turkey’s southern Hatay province, Celik pointed out that this number is a record among UN figures.
Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled, making it the world’s top refugee hosting country.
Celik also said Turkey should keep an eye on Libya, which is being pushed into becoming another Syria by some states.
"Since there were no early interventions following the developments in Syria, the civil war there has unfortunately become a great price for innocents and civilians to pay," he said.
Commenting on the Berlin summit on Libya, he said statements made by European states do not reflect reality.
On Jan. 12, parties in Libya announced a ceasefire in response to a joint call by the leaders of Turkey and Russia. But talks for a permanent ceasefire ended without an agreement after renegade commander Khalifa Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.
Haftar accepted terms in Berlin to designate members to a UN-proposed military commission with five members from each side to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire.