Russian Ambassador To Turkey Says Syrian Forces 'Unlikely' To Halt Idlib Offensive

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Says Syrian Forces 'Unlikely' to Halt Idlib Offensive

ANKARA (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 14th February, 2020) Russian Ambassador to Turkey Aleksei Erkhov described withdrawal of the Syrian armed forces from the province of Idlib as 'unlikely' in an interview with Sputnik on Thursday.

Earlier in the month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he had called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to pressure Syrian leader Bashar Assad into stopping his forces' operation in Idlib and withdrawing them from the Turkish observation posts until the end of February, threatening military retaliation if his demands are not heeded.

"The Syrian army is fighting on its own sovereign territory for the rights of its people, including the right to live the way their fathers and grandfathers used to live, and not by rules imposed by some bearded outlanders. So it has liberated dozens of villages from the illegal armed groups, as well as the strategic М5 highway, in recent days, and it is unlikely for someone to be capable of turning back the advancing army," Erkhov said.

He also addressed the issue of the Turkish observation points.

"When we agreed in Sochi on their continued existence we meant that they would monitor the implementation of the ceasefire and the agreements, committed to the memorandum.

But the agreements are not fulfilled, combat is still going on, and thus a question emerges: why do we conduct this so-called monitoring? What functions do these installations, which are essentially what is called 'defended positions' in the military parlance, perform?" the ambassador added.

In May 2017, the warring parties held talks in the Kazakh capital of Nur Sultan under the mediation of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and managed to conclude a ceasefire agreement and establish four de-escalation zones. The Sochi agreement, brokered by President Putin and his Turkish counterpart Erdogan, in September 2018, created a demilitarized zone along the contact line between the armed opposition and government forces in Idlib. Under the terms of the deal, militants were supposed to withdraw from this zone.

The Syrian armed forces are currently the military activities in Idlib the area of terrorists of the Islamic State group and Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front (both terrorist organizations are banned in Russia).

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