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4 Feb, 2020 17:33

Ankara failed to separate ‘armed opposition’ from terrorists in Syria’s Idlib – Lavrov

Ankara failed to separate ‘armed opposition’ from terrorists in Syria’s Idlib – Lavrov

Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov urged Turkey to stick to existing agreements and fulfill its obligations on the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria, which has seen intense fighting between government troops and militants in recent days.

The ongoing escalation in Syria's Idlib, where the Syrian Army launched a massive offensive against anti-government militants and Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, has already resulted in sporadic clashes between the militaries of Syria and Turkey. 

Early on Monday, Turkish military convoy was hit by Syrian artillery fire after Ankara moved its troops into Syria without prior notice. Several Turkish soldiers have been killed in the incident that triggered an angry reaction of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a retaliatory bombardment of Syrian Army positions.

Still, Ankara itself is partially to blame for the ongoing escalation, as it has failed to fulfill a number of its "key obligations" on the Idlib zone, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday, speaking to the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.

"First of all, it's the obligation to separate the armed opposition, that is cooperating with the Turks and is ready to engage into a political dialogue with the [Syrian] government, from the terrorists of the Jabhat Al-Nusra group, that morphed into the Hayyat Tahrir-Al-Sham group," Lavrov stated.

Also on rt.com Turkey failed to notify of convoy movements in Syria’s Idlib before getting shelled by Damascus troops – Russian military

According to the Russia-Turkey agreements on Idlib, reached back in 2018 and 2019, a demilitarized zone to separate anti-government militants from Syrian troops was to be established, while both sides were expected to stick to the ceasefire – but none of these goals have been actually reached. At the same time, the deals did not affect the aforementioned terrorist groups, which remain a fair target for the government troops, Lavrov said.

Moscow is also concerned about the reported transfer of Idlib's militants, including members of terrorist groups, into another warzone – Libya. Such developments make Idlib a source of instability that spills violence into other countries, Lavrov warned.

"Given all these factors, Russia cannot fix the [Idlib] issue all by itself, but it can demand unconditional and full-fledged fulfillment of all the obligations on Idlib. This is what we're talking about with our Turkish partners," the diplomat added.

Also on rt.com Turkey says 6 troops killed in shelling in Syria's Idlib, points finger at Damascus

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