The Russian foreign minister has said that Turkey is still unable to separate opposition fighters from terrorists in Syria’s Idlib region despite having promised to do so.
“Idlib has become a hotbed of terrorism,” Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Washington according to the Al Masdar news website. “There, unfortunately, our Turkish colleagues cannot yet fulfil their obligation to separate the armed opposition, which is not tainted by terrorist acts, from Jabhat al-Nusra … as they, our Turkish colleagues, committed to do by September of last year.”
Syria’s Idlib has been taken over by Jabhat al-Nusra but eventually must be liberated and returned to government control, he added.
“… Jabhat al-Nusra took control of the Idlib de-escalation zone. The final result … should be complete liberation of the zone from terrorists and restoration of the legitimate government’s control over this entire territory.”
The terrorist group, Lavrov said, took control of the zone and attacked Syrian troops, civilian infrastructure and Russia’s Hmeymim airbase. Russian and Syrian forces responded to each of the attacks, but it is impossible to allow the status quo to continue, Lavrov added.
In September 2018 Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed to set up a demilitarized zone in Idlib along the contact line between the armed opposition and government forces during talks in the Russian resort city of Sochi. The withdrawal of heavy weaponry operated by militants is also part of the agreement.