Turkish President Erdogan on Friday described as “a stillborn baby” the week-long cease-fire in Syria, which failed as every ceasefire agreement before.
US and Russia reached a ceasefire agreement that included halting for all military operations, delivering humanitarian aids to the besieged areas, and cooperation between US and Russia in fighting “terrorist organizations” in Syria.
However, he ceasefire ended catastrophically earlier this week with no delivery of humanitarian aid and the bombing of a UN aid convoy.
“Unfortunately, it is a stillborn baby,” he told NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin when asked whether the Washington-Moscow brokered cessation of hostilities was dead. “A period of 48 hours was initiated and then a week was discussed if the first 48 hours was a successful one, but it never happened. The cessation of hostilities was significantly interrupted.”
Erdogan said the Bashar al-Assad regime was responsible for the attack on the UN convoy Monday, in which aid workers and drivers were reported killed after an apparent airstrike.
At least 18 of 31 trucks in a U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy were hit on Monday along with an SARC warehouse. The convoy was delivering aid for 78,000 people in the hard-to-reach town of Urm al-Kubra in Aleppo province.
Earlier this week, the U.S. put the blame squarely on Russia, Assad’s closest ally, for directly carrying out or at least ignoring the regime forces carrying out the attack.
The Turkish president also reiterated the necessity Ankara sees for a no-fly zone over parts of Syria.
“This region in question should have been officially declared as a no-fly zone, and unfortunately no leader from around the world seems to have agreed,” Erdogan said. “They have been talking about this necessity from time to time but no concrete step has been taken forward.”
Erdogan declared Thursday that Turkey’s ongoing military operation in northern Syria aims to open up a 4,000-5,000 square kilometer “safe zone” in the region where Ankara will build settlements for Syrian refugees in Turkey to return to their country, and would-be refugees fleeing the violence can take shelter.