Turkey, Russia, France, Germany say Idlib ceasefire must be safeguarded

The four nations met in Istanbul to discuss measures to halt the conflict.

(From L) German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron take part in a summit called to attempt to find a lasting political solution to the civil war in Syria which has claimed in excess of 350 000 lives, at Vahdettin Mansion in Istanbul, on October 27, 2018.  The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany are set to meet in Istanbul to try to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian civil war and salvage a fragile ceasefire in a rebel-held northern province. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the summit on the conflict, in which more than 360,000 people have been killed since 2011. / AFP / POOL / MAXIM SHIPENKOV
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The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany have called for the 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" said 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.

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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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