Russia and Turkey are forging ahead with deadly fighting in Syria despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's call for a permanent cease-fire in the northwestern province of Idlib, reports Newsweek.
Syrian troops backed by Russian forces have been fighting since December to eliminate the last rebel strongholds in the region, while Turkish forces have placed their support behind the rebel groups.
Pompeo on Tuesday condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "brutal new aggression there, cynically backed by Moscow and Tehran" and warned the regime "will not be able to obtain military victory. The regime's offensive only heightens the risk of conflict with our NATO ally Turkey."
Instead, both sides must agree to a "permanent ceasefire and U.N.-led negotiations," Pompeo added.
Syrian fighters backed by Turkey seized the town of Nairab in Idlib this week, but Assad's troops continue to make advances elsewhere in the region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said his military plans to push Syrian government forces away from its military observation posts in Idlib.
"We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the surrounding [Syrian government forces] by the end of this month, one way or another," Erdogan told his party's parliamentarians in a speech Wednesday.
"The time we have given to those who besieged our observation towers is running out. We are planning to save those of our observation posts from the besiegers one way or another by the end of this month."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said any ceasefire would be akin to "capitulating before terrorists" and accused some governments of "a desire to justify outrageous acts committed by radical and terrorist" groups.
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