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article imageSyria summit says Idlib ceasefire must be safeguarded

By AFP     Oct 27, 2018 in World

The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany on Saturday called for a ceasefire around the last major rebel-held bastion of Idlib in Syria to be preserved.

The four nations "stressed the importance of a lasting ceasefire" according to a statement read by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the end of a major summit in Istanbul.

Erdogan, along with Russia's Vladimir Putin, France's Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met to try and find a lasting solution to the Syrian conflict, in which more than 360,000 people have been killed since 2011.

After a joint press conference, Macron urged Russia, which supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to exercise "very clear pressure" on Damascus for a "stable and lasting ceasefire in Idlib".

Last month rebel backer Turkey agreed with Russia to create a buffer zone around Idlib amid fears of a impending assault on the northwestern province that many feared would lead to a humanitarian disaster.

However clashes have continued in Idlib since, and on Friday seven civilians were killed by Syrian regime artillery fire, the highest death toll since the ceasefire was reached.

A joint statement adopted at the end of the summit called for a committee to be established to draft a new Syrian constitution before the end of the year, "paving the way for free and fair elections" in the war-torn country.

The statement also spoke of "the need to ensure humanitarian organisations' rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Syria and immediate humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need."

It also said that conditions needed to created "throughout the country for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons".

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