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The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany on Saturday called for a 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” according to a statement read by Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the end of a major summit in Istanbul.

Erdoğan, along with Russian president Vladimir Putin, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel met to try to 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 Turkey, which backs the rebels, agreed with Russia to create a buffer zone around Idlib amid fears of an impending assault on the northwestern province, which many feared would lead to a humanitarian disaster.

However clashes have continued in Idlib since. 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.

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 be created “throughout the country for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons”.

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Idlib Syria summit
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