Turkey notified of attacks on HTS militants in Idlib: Lavrov

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOV

Turkey has been notified about attacks on Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) militants in Syria’s Idlib region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to Sputnik International, in response to a Turkish Defense Ministry statement on an airstrike that hit a Turkish convoy near Idlib region.

“Jointly with our Turkish colleagues, in order to stop regular violations by these terrorists of the cessation of hostilities agreement, although it does not extend to them, we have made clear that if they carry out attacks from this zone they will be harshly suppressed. These provocations have continued throughout the year,” Lavrov said at a press conference held after talks with his Ghanaian counterpart, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry on Monday said three civilians were killed and 12 others were wounded in an air attack on one of its convoys in Idlib.

“Despite repeated warnings to the authorities of the Russian Federation, the military operations by regime forces continue in the Idlib region in violation of the existing memorandums and agreements with the Russian Federation,” the ministry said in a statement.

HTS is an alliance of militant groups active in Syria. The group, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, is part of this broader alliance.

Lavrov added that in all cases Turkish colleagues were warned that “we will respond, and that will continue because the agreement on Idlib does not provide for the extension of the ceasefire to terrorists.”

“The developing situation has emerged due to the fact that extremists have not stopped their attempts to hit from there [Idlib’s areas controlled by militants and the opposition] on targets located in other territories of the Syrian Arab Republic. Our military certainly maintains constant contact. These days they are discussing the current situation,” Lavrov stated.

The minister stressed that Russia was closely following the situation in Idlib.

The statement comes after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said earlier in the day that Turkey was in contact with Russia over the Syrian Air Force’s recent attack on a Turkish military convoy in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.

The Turkish minister stressed that it was necessary to focus on a political settlement and transition period in Syria.

“We will discuss this at upcoming meetings with the Russian and Iranian leaders. … It is difficult to ensure a political settlement without the participation of the guarantor states,” Çavuşoğlu added.

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