Security Council urged to debate Russian airstrikes

Turkey called on Tuesday for Russia’s airstrikes on civilians and hospitals in Syria to be debated at the UN Security Council.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus also called on Russia and the U.S. – both permanent members of the council – to show their support for peace by enforced a no-fly zone in Syria.

“The issue that should be brought to the United Nations Security Council is yesterday’s attacks on hospitals, civilian areas and areas that should be jointly defended,” Kurtulmus said in a news conference following a Cabinet meeting in Ankara.

On Monday, Russian jets targeted two schools and a hospital in Azaz, the northwestern Syrian town that has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent days.

A Doctors Without Borders-run hospital in Idlib, 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the southwest of Azaz, was also hit, killing at least 50, including women and children.

Current discussions aimed at moving towards a cease-fire in Syria have been thrown into doubt by a Russian-backed offensive in the northwest of the country.

“If you want to sincerely get a result from the peace tables, immediately prevent the inhuman humanitarian dimensions of the war by declaring a no-fly zone here,” Kurtulmus said.

He condemned the “contradiction” of the UN seeking to broker peace talks while one of the Security Council’s permanent members – Russia – flouted calls to end the violence.

“You will both prepare the ground where the one who has a power at the UN will carry out every kind of massacre and then you will claim you have formed a peace table,” he said.

Kurtulmus refuted claims that Turkey was close to becoming more involved in the conflict and said the government had been acting to protect Turkey’s national interests.

“We cannot consent to Turkey being dragged into a venture whose end is unclear,” he said, adding that he hoped Turkey would “maintain immediate peace in this region”.

Turning to domestic issues, Kurtulmus said an urban transformation plan would be implemented in Silopi, Sirnak province – one town in Turkey’s southeast where PKK terrorism had seen destruction to buildings.

“A detailed, extremely meticulous effort has been completed by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization for ascertaining risky areas in Silopi district,” he said. “A very serious urban transformation plan will be put into implementation with the perspective of restoring unhealthy buildings.”

This would act as a pilot scheme for other towns affected by the conflict.