Irem UZUN -TDO- Top EU officials urged on Thursday for "bombings and attacks on civilians" in northwest Syria to stop. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Janez Lenarcic, the European commissioner for crisis management, said all parties should respect international humanitarian law, including granting access for humanitarian aid and protecting civilians. In a joint statement, Borrell and Lenarcic said the "extraordinary human suffering" of the people near the province of Idlib was "unacceptable."

The EU reiterated its willingness to provide humanitarian assistance in the face of "the extraordinary human suffering being endured by the population" but called for "unhindered and secure access to assess and respond to the full range of needs". In the statement, they stressed that hundreds of civilians had been killed with more than 500,000 fleeing their homes over the past months due to intensified military operations. They added that attacks continued against civilian targets "in densely populated areas, medical facilities and settlements for internally displaced people," with displaced people suffering poor living conditions amid harsh winter conditions while unable to meet even their basic needs.

Backed by Russian airpower, the Syrian government forces have intensified its attacks since December to gain ground in Idlib. A renewed offensive by Syrian forces has undermined existing peace agreements and led to deadly clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces in which more than 20 soldiers and personnel were killed on Monday. Meanwhile, Turkey on Thursday urged Russia to press for an end to the Syrian government offensive in Idlib. "We expect Russia to stop the regime as soon as possible," Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.

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