Kremlin rebuffs Trump on Syria, says Russia targeting terrorists
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Kremlin rebuffs Trump on Syria, says Russia targeting terrorists

Trump on Sunday criticized Russia and Syrian government forces for bombing terrorist-held Idlib and called for a halt on “this butchery” after a Kremlin statement signaled Moscow would continue to back month-long Syrian government military operations in the northwestern province. When asked about Trump's criticism on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia’s military campaign in the region was justified as terrorists there were firing at civilians and Russian forces. "There is a fairly large buildup of terrorists and fighters in Idlib," Peskov told reporters, adding, "It goes without saying that bombardments by terrorists from Idlib are unacceptable and measures are being taken for neutralizing their fire emplacements.” The Kremlin spokesman also said Russia and Turkey were coordinating their positions over the situation. "Russia maintains cooperation with Turkey, which is responsible for preventing such attacks [by terrorists] from Idlib," Peskov said. Turkey has been trying to avert a Syrian offensive against the city near its borders. The Kremlin said on Friday that it was Turkey’s responsibility to stop Takfiri militants in Syria’s Idlib province from firing on civilian and Russian targets. Idlib, located in northwestern Syria, remains the only large area in the hands of anti-Damascus militants after government forces -- backed by Iran and Russia -- managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control. Last September, Russia and Turkey, a backer of a number of militant groups in Syria, inked a buffer zone agreement in Idlib, which put on hold a massive government liberation operation in the region, situated near the Turkish border. However, a few months later, the so-called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a Takfiri militant alliance dominated by al-Nusra Front terrorists, swept through towns and villages in Idlib. 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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