Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Monday said if the Syrian city of Idlib, a last stronghold for rebels, has become a “terrorist nest,” the Bashar al-Assad government and the countries that support it were responsible, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
He added that a deal on Idlib reached between Turkey and Russia last September calling for the “stabilization” of Idlib’s de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited, has been “successfully” implemented despite difficult conditions.
According to the Russian-Turkish agreement, signed in Sochi on Sept. 17 following talks between the two countries’ presidents, a 15 to 20-kilometer-wide demilitarized zone was to be set up in the Syrian province of Idlib by Oct. 15.
The latest reports from the zone indicate that jihadist groups have gained ground against the Turkish-backed rebels in Idlib.
“The situation in the country’s northwest, particularly in Idlib, still causes the most concern,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in November. “Despite Ankara’s significant efforts to implement the Russian-Turkish memorandum signed on September 17, difficulties persist in setting up a demilitarized zone in Idlib.”
Russia and Iran has been supporting the Assad government against the armed opposition since the beginning of the civil war in the country.