Onus is on Turkey to rein in militants in Syria's Idlib, Russia says
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Onus is on Turkey to rein in militants in Syria's Idlib, Russia says

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made clear on Friday that Moscow was unmoved for the time being by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for a cease-fire in Idlib, emphasizing that militants were the ones, who had to implement a cessation of hostilities in the first instance to prevent more civilian deaths and a refugee influx to Turkey. “We really do need a ceasefire in Idlib and what needs to be achieved is for the terrorists to stop firing on civilian targets and on certain facilities where our troops are located,” Peskov told reporters when asked about Erdogan's request for a ceasefire. “This is the responsibility of the Turkish side,” the Kremlin spokesperson added. On May 23, the Russian Defense Ministry said its surface-to-air missile systems had managed to foil an attack by foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants on its main airbase in Syria's western coastal province of Latakia. The ministry announced in a statement that militants positioned in the de-escalation zone of Idlib province had launched four missiles at the strategic Hmeimim airbase. The statement added that Russian air defense systems destroyed all the projectiles before they could strike the site. The Russian Defense Ministry further noted that the missile launcher, which the Takfiri terrorists had used to fire the missiles at the Hmeimim base, was later detected and destroyed.  The development came only a day after foreign-backed militants fired a barrage of missiles at the same Russian military site. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that eight rockets launched by the extremists did not reach the Hmeimim airbase, while another nine were shot down by Russian air defense systems. Russia has been helping Syrian forces in ongoing battles across the conflict-plagued Arab country. The Russian military assistance, which began in September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government, has proved effective as Syrians continue to recapture key areas from Daesh and other foreign-backed terrorist groups across the country with the backing of Russian air cover. Under a deal reached following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on September 17, 2018, all militants in a demilitarized zone, which surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17, and Takfiri groups had to withdraw by October 15 last year. The National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant alliance in the Idlib region, but the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits, largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, holds a large part of the province and the zone. The HTS, which is said to be in control of some 60 percent of Idlib province, has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 members of different factions of armed groups, which Syria, Russia and Turkey consider terrorists, are active in the volatile province, which is home to around three million inhabitants. Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

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