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Turkey warns Iran, Russia as Syria tensions mount

AFP  |  Istanbul 

today warned and to hold back the Syrian regime in bombing the rebel- held northern province, as tensions mounted ahead of mooted peace talks later this month.

has been working closely with and to end the Syrian conflict over the last months but has stepped up pressure on and as the bombardments on intensified.

wants to bring all the parties in the Syrian conflict together for a conference in its resort of Sochi at the end of this month but the tensions with are proving a major obstacle.

Observers have also warned of a major humanitarian catastrophe in case of more intense intervention in Idlib, especially for tens of thousands of internally displaced people there.

"and Russia should fulfil their responsibility. If you are guarantors -- and you are -- they should stop the regime," told the official Anadolu agency.

Cavusoglu said was acting as garantor for the actions of the opposition and it was up to Russia and Iran to do the same for the government.

has supported the anti-opposition throughout the almost seven-year while Russia and Iran have backed

However, despite the differences, had teamed up with the two other powers in a bid to bring a lasting peace to Syria, even though analysts have long warned the three-way alliance is highly brittle.

In the biggest public flare-up of tensions with and in months, Ankara has already summoned the Russian and Iranian over the bombing.

Cavusoglu said 95 per cent of the violations in Idlib were carried out by the regime and the groups backing the regime.

Idlib province is almost entirely controlled by anti- government forces that are dominated by a jihadist outfit known as (HTS) consisting mostly of former fighters from the Al-Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate.

Assad's forces have upped efforts in the last days to impose control over Idlib and the Eastern Ghouta enclave near Damascus, the two last rebel bastions in

Russia is hoping to hold a peace congress in Sochi on January 29-30 with the particular aim of setting up a new constitution for post-

But Turkey says it will boycott any talks involving the of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara views as a terror group but controls much of

A previous attempt in November to convene talks in Sochi failed due to disagreements between the prospective participants, in particular Turkey.

"We have said we will not be in any environment... where the YPG is present," said Cavusoglu. A Turkish foreign ministry official told AFP that Ankara's attendance at the talks had not been decided.

said today "intense contacts" were in progress at expert level between Russia, Iran and Turkey in order to draw up the list of participants.

"Sochi has failed to land twice and there is still not a lot of clarity about who will go," said one European diplomat, asking not to be named.

"We are sceptical. There is a risk it will involve the wrong people at the wrong time," the added.

Russia is also angered by attacks on Russian bases in Syria last week by drones which it says were sent from Idlib province.

The Russian defence ministry has written to and intelligence supremo Hakan Fidan to insist that the terms of a ceasefire are upheld, the defence ministry newspaper said.

A likely future sticking point between Russia and Turkey is also the fate of Assad, who Ankara has vehemently opposed throughout the conflict and last month described as a "terrorist".

According to European officials, some 1.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Idlib while over 70,000 fled into the area in the last months following fighting elsewhere in Syria.

"We have a potential humanitarian catastrophe with a lot of people in a potentially very small area," said the European "The concern is that they want to kettle HTS into a very small area.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, January 10 2018. 19:51 IST