January 2, 2020 / 6:32 PM / a month ago

Trump, Erdogan agree on need for de-escalation in Idlib, Syria - White House

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump greets Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan during a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan agreed on the need to de-escalate tensions in Idlib, Syria, the White House said on Thursday, a day after eight people were killed in a Syrian missile strike in the province.

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

At least eight people were killed on Wednesday when the Syrian army launched missiles that struck a shelter for displaced families in the country’s northwest, witnesses and residents said.

Five children were among those killed in the strike on a disused school in the town of Sarmin in Idlib province, two medics said, adding over 16 people were injured.

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

The Russian-led campaign that started in April 2019 had already forced at least 500,000 people to leave for areas closer to the border with Turkey, which Russian jets rarely hit.

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

Trump spoke out last week against the “carnage” in Idlib. Moscow and Damascus deny claims of indiscriminate bombing of civilians, saying they are fighting jihadist militants.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Diane Craft and Andrea Ricci

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