Russia can’t Stop Syria from Fighting Terrorism -Russian Foreign Minister
RT-Damascus has the right to fight back when attacked by terrorists and Moscow is in no position to stop Syrians from doing what the UN Security Council endorsed, Russia’s foreign minister has said after the latest Idlib flare-up.
Ankara lost 33 soldiers in the northwestern Syrian province after they were targeted by a Syrian airstrike. Commenting on the tragedy on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the deaths were undoubtedly a tragedy, for which Moscow expresses its condolences. However, Ankara shares part of the blame for what happened, both because it failed to notify Russia about the location of its troops and because it fell short when it came to de-escalating violence in Idlib.
The plan, which Russia and Turkey agreed upon, was “to separate the normal opposition forces from the terrorists, to demilitarize the inner belt in the zone to prevent attacks coming from it against the Syrian forces and the Russian [Air Base Khmeimim], to ensure free road travel through this zone.”
The goals have not been achieved in more than a year, and with attacks from Idlib continuing “the Syria Army certainly has [the] full right to retaliate and suppress the terrorists,” Lavrov said, adding that the requirement to defeat jihadist forces in Syria has been backed by the UN Security Council.
[Russia] cannot prohibit the Syrian Army from executing the demands written in the UNSC resolutions, which call for an uncompromising fight against terrorism in all its forms.
Idlib is the last large stronghold of anti-government forces in Syria, with large parts of it dominated by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the latest reincarnation of Al Qaeda in Syria. In 2018, Ankara objected to a planned military offensive by the Syrian Army, saying it would result in a large loss of civilian life and an exodus of refugees from Idlib, which would trigger a major crisis in Turkey.
Instead, Ankara agreed to use the influence it has among some of the armed groups in Idlib to quell violence and eventually establish a lasting ceasefire, with Russia trying to do the same with Damascus and its forces. The arrangement however didn’t work out, and the Syrian Army started capturing villages and towns in southern Idlib to fend off jihadists.