MOSCOW/ANKARA – Ankara failed to fulfill several key commitments within the framework of the agreement it reached with Moscow on the normalization of situation in Syria’s Idlib province, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during his meeting with Rossiyskaya Gazeta editors.
“Unfortunately, at this stage, the Turkish side failed to fulfill a couple of key commitments that were supposed to solve the Idlib problem altogether. First, they failed to separate the armed opposition, which collaborates with the Turks and is ready for dialogue with the government, from the terrorists for the Nusra Front which turned into ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’,” Lavrov noted, acording to TASS.
“The second aspect connected with risks and threats originating from the Idlib de-escalation zone, involves moving hundreds of militants, including Nusra and ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’ members, to Libya, for taking part in escalation of fighting in that country,” the foreign minister disclosed.
“I would like to underscore again, considering all factors I’ve mentioned, Russia cannot solve this problem alone, but it can fight for unconditional and meticulous fulfillment of agreements on Idlib. This is what we’re talking about with our Turkish partners,” Lavrov added.
The foreign minister underscored that Idlib terrorists continue their provocations.
“Literally two days ago, there was an attempt to strike our Hmeimim base with a drone. It was thwarted with the base’s air defense. And shelling of Syrian Army positions and civilian objects beyond Idlib zone are regular,” he reminded.
According to the top diplomat, one reason for this situation is that no demilitarized zone was created in Idlib.
“We reminded our Turkish partners about that, too. We will keep fighting for fulfillment of all points of the decisions made by the Presidents of Russia and Turkey,” he said.
“We receive information on deployment of the Turkish forces in the Idlib zone, about clashes between them and the Syrian forces. Our military monitors this situation. According to our data, already announced by the General Staff, the Turkish servicemen advanced towards certain objects inside Idlib de-escalation zone without warning us, so we were unable to warn the Syrian Army. The strikes were conducted, the Turkish side threatens retaliation. This is all very sad. We call for diligent fulfillment of the 2018 and 2019 Sochi agreements on Idlib,” the Russian top diplomat added.
US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the United States supports Turkey’s military action against the Syrian Army in Idlib, seeing it as an act of self-defense.
“We stand by our NATO Ally Turkey in the aftermath of the attack, which resulted in the death of multiple Turkish personnel serving at an observation post used for coordination and de-escalation, and fully support Turkey’s justified self-defense actions in response,” Pompeo stated.