Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke “13 times” on Friday with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to discuss the situation in Syria’s second city of Aleppo, a Turkish diplomatic source said.
The Syrian government on Friday suspended the evacuation of civilians and fighters from the eastern sections of Aleppo, leaving thousands of people trapped and uncertain of their fate.
The delicate evacuation operation began on Thursday under a ceasefire deal brokered by rebel backer Turkey and Russia, which supports President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
But on Friday morning it was abruptly suspended, with Damascus accusing rebels of violating the fragile accord.
Turkey has since stepped up diplomatic efforts with the major actors including Iran -- another key regime backer.
Cavusoglu “spoke 13 times with his Iranian counterpart since Friday morning,” the diplomatic source told reporters.
The Syrian opposition has accused the government of suspending the operation in a bid to secure the evacuation of residents from Fuaa and Kafraya, two villages under rebel siege in northwest Syria.
The Syrian government and Iran have reportedly sought to add an evacuation of civilians from the villages to the terms of the Aleppo deal.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, also said the suspension appeared to be related to the two villages.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday called for all sides to respect the Aleppo deal.