In Syrian Idlib, a very alarming situation has developed, they stated in the Kremlin. According to the press secretary of Russian President Dmitry Peskov, the situation in this region is constantly discussed by Moscow and Ankara.
“The situation in Idlib is really very alarming. She is deeply worried. This situation is constantly a topic of discussion for the Russian and Turkish sides. We would not like to talk about the worst-case scenarios, ”a Kremlin spokesman said.
Earlier, Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar spoke on this topic. He stated that Ankara has no intention of confronting Moscow.
Recall, on February 19, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish side was not satisfied with the results of the negotiations in Moscow and warned of its readiness to begin a military operation in Idlib. According to him, its beginning is "only a matter of time."
And on Friday February 21, Erdogan noted that Turkey has already begun to operate in this region.
“What happens in Idlib can be described by the word war. We have already begun our actions there, ”he said.
Ankara’s further position on Idlib will be formed during telephone conversations between the presidents in the evening of February 21, Erdogan noted.
Information about the planned call was confirmed by Dmitry Peskov. According to him, Putin, taking into account the upcoming call, discussed the situation around Idlib with the Russian Security Council.
- Turkish Armed Forces
- © Omar Haj Kador
“No evidence exists”
Ankara claims that Syrian troops allegedly attack civilian targets in Idlib and thereby provoke the exodus of refugees from the region. So, in early February, during a visit to Kiev, Erdogan said that "about a million" Syrians are moving to the Turkish border.
“The situation in Idlib is becoming uncontrollable, about a million refugees have left their homes and are moving towards the Turkish border,” he said.
However, the Russian center for the reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria (CPVS) denied these words.
“Information about the alleged flow of“ hundreds of thousands ”of provincial civilians rushing to the Syrian-Turkish border due to hostilities between terrorists and Syrian government forces in the east of the province is untrue. There are no verifiable photo and video materials, any other evidence supporting statements about the transfer to the Syrian-Turkish border of supposedly “about a million” refugees from the Idlib de-escalation zone, ”the CPVS statement said.
The center noted that all the roads in the north of Idlib province, where the Turkish border is located, operate normally, "which made it possible to transfer to the territory of the de-escalation zone from the Republic of Turkey multi-kilometer convoys of military equipment and trucks with ammunition."
The Center also reported that they monitor the situation in the ash of de-escalation in Idlib in several ways, including analysis of social networks, unmanned aerial vehicles and direct communication of Russian officers with local residents.
“Terrorists block all exit routes”
The escalation of the situation in the region was caused by massive attacks by terrorists on the positions of the Syrian government forces, recalled in the central air traffic control center. In addition, the militants do not allow civilians to leave Idlib through humanitarian corridors organized by the Russian and Syrian sides.
“At present, it’s the terrorists who, hiding behind the locals as a human shield, block all the access routes for Syrian citizens through humanitarian corridors organized by the Central Military District and Syria to the El Hader checkpoints in Aleppo province, Abu Ed Duhour in Idlib provinces and Habit in the province of Hama, ”the center emphasized.
The Russian side called on Turkey to take measures to ensure the safe exit of residents through checkpoints to those territories that are under the control of Damascus.
Idlib is the last major outbreak of terrorists in Syria. It is under the control of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants *. In addition, representatives of the armed opposition are concentrated in the region.
According to the agreements concluded between Russia and Turkey, Ankara was to ensure the separation of terrorists from the opposition. However, as stated in the Foreign Ministry, this did not happen, which was the reason for the aggravation of the situation.
The strike of the Russian VKS
Turkey opposes the operation of the Syrian army. According to Ankara’s position, Damascus allegedly strikes civilians and exacerbates the humanitarian situation. Clashes between Syrian and Turkish troops regularly take place in the Idlib area.
In particular, on February 20, militants launched an attack on the position of the Syrian troops. According to the CPVS, they were supported by Turkish artillery, which allowed them to break through the defenses of government forces.
Then the Syrian side turned to Russia and the Su-24 airplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces attacked terrorists.
“At the request of the Syrian command of the Su-24 aircraft of the Russian Air Forces, a blow was struck against the breakthrough armed terrorist units,” the CPVS said in a statement.
As a result of the strike of Russian aviation, six infantry fighting vehicles and five pickups with large-caliber weapons were destroyed, emphasized in the center. The CPVS stated that "this is not the first case of support for militants from the Turkish Armed Forces."
The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that this violates the agreements concluded between Moscow and Ankara.
“We express serious concern about such support for militants from the Turkish Armed Forces. This incident is a violation of the Russian-Turkish agreements ... runs the risk of provoking a further escalation of the conflict in this part of the national territory of Syria, ”the ministry said.
* “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (“Jabhat Fath al-Sham”, “Front al-Nusra”, “Jabhat al-Nusra”) - the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated December 29, 2014.