Trump and Erdogan agree on need for de-escalation in Syria

It comes after nine people were killed in a makeshift school

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on January 2, 2020 shows Syrian government forces firing at positions of rebel fighters in the countryside of Maaret al-Numan .  More than 235,000 people have fled the Idlib region over the past two weeks, the UN said Friday, amid heightened regime and Russian attacks on Syria's last major opposition bastion. The mass displacement between 12 and 25 December has left the violence-plagued Maaret al-Numan region in southern Idlib "almost empty," according to the UN humanitarian agency OCHA. -  == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SANA" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==
 / AFP / SANA / - /  == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SANA" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==

US President Donald Trump and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday agreed on the need to de-escalate tension in Syria.

"The leaders agreed on the need for de-escalation in Idlib, Syria, in order to protect civilians," the White House said.

At least nine people were killed on Wednesday when the Syrian army launched missiles that struck a shelter for displaced families in the country's north-west, residents said.

Five children were among those killed in the strike on a disused school in the town of Sarmin in Idlib province and more than 16 people were injured.

The school building was being used by families fleeing a bombing campaign in Idlib, the last opposition bastion in the north-west.

The campaign that started in April had already forced at least 500,000 people to leave for areas closer to the border with Turkey, which jets rarely hit.

Rescue services and witnesses say the bombing has killed several thousand civilians.

Mr Trump spoke out last week against the "carnage" in Idlib.

Damascus denies claims of indiscriminate bombing of civilians, saying it is fighting militants.

Syria's civil war has killed more than 370,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

In total, 11,215 people, including more than 1,000 children, were killed in the war last year, although it was the least deadly year since the start of the conflict.

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