Middle East

Ankara allowed its outpost to merge with terrorist fortifications in Idlib: Russia

Moscow says Ankara has failed to live up to its commitments under a deal to enforce a demilitarized zone in Idlib, complaining that the Turkish military has allowed its observation posts to merge with terrorist fortifications in the northwestern Syrian province.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov blasted Turkey for amassing troops in Idlib and the Western countries for turning a blind eye to the unlawful military build-up.

“No one in the West notices the actions of the Turkish side, which, in violation of international law, has deployed a strike force the size of a mechanized division to Syria’s Idlib,” he said.

Terrorist fortifications have merged with Turkish outposts in Idlib, said the official, adding that “attacks and mass artillery fire on neighboring civilian settlements and the Russian airbase at Khmeimim turned from sporadic to daily.”

“Amid the total cynicism and the West’s fake concerns over the humanitarian situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, only the Russian center for reconciliation of the opposing sides and the legitimate Syrian government deliver to the liberated areas all the needed assistance for local residents daily,” he said.

“All of Russia’s official requests to the UN and Western countries — who delivered humanitarian aid across the Turkish border and all of it went not to refugees, but to terrorists — remained unanswered. All we heard were the lamentations about the need to ‘preserve the Sochi agreements at all costs,’” he added.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia signed an agreement in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, under which Ankara was required to establish observation posts in the militant-controlled Idlib and separate extremist terrorist from other armed anti-Damascus militant groups willing to engage in peace talks with the Syrian government.

Turkey was also obliged to take effective measures to ensure a lasting ceasefire in the region.

Currently, however, foreign-backed terrorist rule supreme in Idlib in quite close proximity to the Turkish troops. They also continue to target Syrian troops and allied Russian personnel.

Syria launched a counter-terrorism offensive in Idlib and neighboring areas last December, but the campaign coincided with a massive deployment of troops and military equipment by Turkey, which is evidently upset by changing conditions on the ground.

Last week, the Turkish government allowed the refugee to enter Europe, after accusing the Europeans of not doing enough to help it with the refugees as well as its failing to have Moscow stop Damascus’ advances in Idlib.

It came on the back of an air strike by Syrian forces in Idlib that killed at least 36 Turkish soldiers, whom Russia said were “in the battle formations of terrorist groups.”

Top EU diplomat visits Turkey, urges Idlib de-escalation

On Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met with Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in Ankara to discuss the situation along the EU-Turkey border.

“Pressure and unilateral action are not an answer. We need to work hand in hand to address common challenges, for the benefit of both Turkey and the EU,” Borrell tweeted.

He also sat down for talks with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and underlined the need for Idlib de-escalation.

Idlib is the only large territory in the hands of terrorists after the Syrian military managed to undo militant gains across the Arab country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.

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