Moscow has said it was still committed to coordination with Ankara in its efforts to resolve the situation in Syria’s northern Idlib province.
The Kremlin announced that it expects Idlib’s situation to be settled soon by “liberating the province from terrorists” in a way that guarantees the security of Russian forces and the Syrian military.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said that Russia sees no alternative to cooperation with Turkey on this serious issue, stressing that Ankara is responsible for removing terrorists from Idlib.
Peskov also noted Russia’s persisting concerns towards the terror threat posed in Idlib.
In an interview with Russia’s Channel One, Peskov said that Moscow is worried that the “terrorist threat” in Idlib is yet to be addressed.
“The process of separating terrorists in Idlib [from moderate forces] has not been carried out yet … Terrorists are still active there, and they pose a threat to the Syrian military and our soldiers,” Peskov was quoted as saying.
Last year, Russia and Turkey reached a breakthrough agreement on Idlib. However, Ankara is yet to fulfill its part of the agreement, which was meant to help neutralize all “terrorist” groups in the province without a military operation.
Most of Idlib and opposition-held areas around it are now under the control of al-Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and other groups.
Moscow had revealed that Idlib was a topic of discussion during calls held between Russian and Turkish officials.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Idlib in a phone call. So did foreign ministers Sergei Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu.
On the other hand, Russian news agency Sputnik, quoting local sources, reported that HTS handed over some positions in the southern countryside of Idlib.
These positions, according to Sputnik, were operated by the ISIS offshoot Ansar al-Tawhid faction and fighters affiliated with the Chinese Turkistan Islamic Party.