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Russia calls for efforts to implement Idlib agreements

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Russia has called for implementation of agreements between Ankara and Moscow regarding Idlib in northwest Syria.

“If military officers, diplomats and security service representatives make the effort, the agreements can be translated into the language of practical action,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.

He also said that the presidents of Turkey and Russia have held telephone conversations and confirmed their commitment to the Sochi agreement.

“We reaffirm our full commitment to the agreements reached between the Presidents of Russia and the Republic of Turkey on what should be done in the Idlib de-escalation zone: Separate normal opposition from terrorists, demilitarize the line in the area and ensure unrestricted use of highways passing through this area,” he said.

Commenting on the latest attack by the Syrian regime that killed 33 Turkish soldiers, Lavrov said the Turkish side did not inform the Russian side of the presence of military personnel in the area where the attack took place, a claim denied by Turkey.

Lavrov said that “as soon as the Russian military became aware of the incident, it demanded that regime forces stop the offensive to ensure a safe evacuation” of wounded and martyred Turkish soldiers.

Earlier in the day, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the location of Turkish forces had been disclosed to Russia.

“This attack has taken place despite the fact that the places where our units are located have been coordinated with Russian Federation officials in advance,” Akar told media representatives in Hatay province in southern Turkey.

Turkish soldiers stationed in Idlib have pledged to protect local civilians under a September 2018 agreement with Russia, which bans acts of aggression in the region.

Lavrov also expressed condolences to the families of Turkish soldiers who lost their lives in the attack.

“We express our condolences and reiterate that we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of Turkish military personnel who are enabling the de-escalation regime in the Idlib area, and our military on the ground is ready to continue this work,” he said.

Lavrov said Russian and Turkish negotiators have agreed to continue talks on Idlib.

Since Turkey and Russia reached an agreement on Idlib in 2018 under which the acts of aggression should be banned, more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in Assad’s attacks and Russian forces in the area as the ceasefire continues to be violated.

The de-escalation zone is currently home to 4 million civilians including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces across the war-torn country.

More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks.

Since the outbreak of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has admitted about 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the country with the most refugees in the world.

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