Russia: Amidst an eroding situation, it’s Turkey’s Job to Guarantee Idlib Ceasefire

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MOSCOW – Press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, said that while Russia considers it necessary to ensure that the terrorists who agreed to the Syrian Idlib cease fire adhere to it, that in accordance with the agreements, this responsibility lies with the Turkish side. These comments were made yesterday, May 31st.

“In this case, one cannot talk about any differences (between Russia and Turkey – ed. ). Indeed, a cease-fire in Idlib is necessary, it is necessary to ensure that terrorists cease fire on civilian targets, as well as on certain facilities where our military are located, including Hamimim and from Idlib, ” said Peskov, answering the question about what happened Thursday during a telephone conversation between President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the end of which journalists noticed discrepancies in the wording in the messages of Moscow and Ankara.

In this regard, Peskov stressed that, according to the previously reached agreements, Turkey is responsible for the de-escalation in Idlib.

“And here, of course, we must remember that in this case, according to the agreements that were concluded in Sochi, it is the responsibility of the Turkish side. And here, of course, the actions of our Turkish partners and cooperation between Russia and Turkey are important to achieve these goals, ” said Peskov.

Answering the clarifying question, he said that first of all we are talking about Idlib. “First of all, of course, there are clusters of militants who lead offensive actions from there,” the Kremlin spokesman explained.

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On May 30th, a telephone conversation took place between the presidents of Russia and Turkey. According to the Kremlin press service, the parties continued to discuss the situation in Syria. “It was noted the importance of building up joint work in order to stabilize in the province of Idlib, including taking effective measures to neutralize terrorist groups,” the report said.

Recall that on October 15th, terms of an agreement between Turkey and Russia were to create a demilitarized (buffer) zone along the line of the northern front in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Lattakia, with the withdrawal of hostilities from it, expired. The Syrian army as a whole fulfilled the terms of the agreement, but in a number of ways it was not possible to do this because of the constant shelling by the militants. In turn, the Turkish side still cannot convince radical Islamist and terrorist groups to withdraw from the front line. In connection with the current situation, the Turkish authorities requested to extend the deadlines for the implementation of the “buffer zone” agreement. Earlier, Moscow and Ankara agreed to extend the deadlines for the withdrawal of militants from the demilitarized zone.

Following the talks between the presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the defense ministers of the two countries signed a memorandum on the stabilization of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria on September 17 in Sochi. Only a fraction of the heavy weapons (tanks, multiple rocket launchers, guns and mortars) were withdrawn from the demilitarized zone in Idlib. Control over the demilitarized zone is to be organized by forces of mobile patrol groups of Turkish units and units of the Russian military police. The demilitarized zone was created along the line of contact between the Syrian government forces and the armed opposition groups of the SAR. The depth of the zone will be from 15 to 20 kilometers.

In recent weeks, the situation around the Idlib de-escalation zone has deteriorated dramatically. From the positions occupied by Islamist militants in northwestern Syria, the Russian Hmeimim airbase is periodically shelled.

The Syrian army fights with several groups of “irreconcilables” at once, while the “moderate” armed opposition members in the “National Liberation Front” backed by Turkey also began shelling positions of Bashar al-Assad’s troops of the SAA. Government forces are holding back militants of the Khoras al-Din group, which is considered one of the Syrian branches of Al-Qaeda, a motley mass of militants from the jihadist alliance Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham (HTS), in which is played by the terrorist group “Dzhebkhat Fath al-Sham” (the former “Dzhebhat an-Nusra”, which replaced the “signboard” in the summer of 2016, is banned in the Russian Federation), the group “Jaysh al-Izz” and others.

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