A general view of trucks carrying belongings of displaced Syrians, is pictured in the town of Sarmada in Idlib province, Syria, January 28, 2020 - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Russia Blames Idlib Escalation on Turkey’s Failure to Live Up to Commitments on Syria

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Earlier in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Moscow and Damascus of attacking civilians in Idlib, mere days after Turkey claimed it had lost five soldiers in shelling by the Syrian Army.

Commenting on the recent deterioration of the situation in Syria's Idlib de-escalation zone, the Russian Defence Ministry stated that the crisis has worsened because militants are obtaining weapons and ammunition from across the Turkish border.

The ministry noted that the attacks by Syrian militants on neighbouring peaceful areas prompted the Syrian government forces to respond.

"The civilians are suffering because of provocations in Idlib de-escalation zone by the terrorist groups that use 'live shield' against the Syrian government forces. The situation is exacerbated by the arrival of weapons and ammunition in the de-escalation zone via the Syrian-Turkish border, as well as the arrival of Turkish armoured vehicles and troops in the province of Idlib," the Russian ministry said in a press release.

"The real reason of the crisis in Idlib de-escalation zone is, unfortunately, the failure of our Turkish colleagues to adhere to their commitments on separating moderate opposition fighters from terrorists of Jabhat Nusra (banned in Russia) and Hurras ad-Din (linked to Al Qaeda, which is banned in Russia)," the press release read.

 

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling party in Ordu, Turkey, Saturday, March 24, 2018 - Sputnik International
Ankara is Determined to Push Syrian Army Beyond Turkish Observation Posts in Idlib - Ergodan
Syrian government forces, supported by Russia, have recently been increasing their efforts to expel terrorists from Idlib, the only remaining militant stronghold in Syria.

At the same time, over the past two days, the Turkish Defence Ministry has issued statements, saying the country's military has been conducting retaliatory attacks on Syrian government forces.

According to the ministry's data, on Monday, the Turkish army struck 115 Syrian government targets, destroying 101 of them, while on Tuesday it managed to hit 51 government units.

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20:54 GMT 12.02.2020

The Syrian government has regained control of more than half of the Idlib province, Acting Governor Fadi Sadun said on Wednesday.

"Today, the government controls more than half of the province," Sadun told reporters.

The acting governor himself is now in the capital of the neighboring province of Hama, as the provincial capital of Idlib remains under the militants' control.

According to Sadun, about 1.3 million people live in militant-held areas of Idlib. There are about 70,000 militants, 40,000 of which came from other countries, he added.

19:59 GMT 12.02.2020

The Syrian army established control over a section of the M5 international highway passing through the Idlib de-escalation zone, effectively creating the security zone envisioned for by the Russian-Turkish memorandum signed in 2018, the Russian Defence Ministry's Centre for Syrian Reconciliation said on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Idlib's Acting Governor Fadi Sadun said the Syrian government forces had taken control of the M5 highway Damascus-Aleppo.

"The Syrian army has established control over a section of the M5 international highway passing through the Idlib de-escalation zone, defeating the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group [formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, banned in Russia] and its allied groups that held it. Thus, a security zone has been created, provided for by the Russian-Turkish memorandum of September 17, 2018," the centre said.

The actions of government forces allowed to neutralize terrorist attacks and stop the killings of civilians, it added.

"The operation of the Syrian army was forced due to the fact that the Turkish side failed to comply with the relevant provisions of the Sochi memorandum on the creation of a demilitarized zone along the borders of the Idlib de-escalation zone," the center's head, Maj. Gen. Yury Borenkov, said.

19:31 GMT 12.02.2020

One child was killed and one adult was wounded in a conflict between local residents and US troops in Syria on Wednesday, the Russian centre for Syrian reconciliation said.

The conflict took place in the morning in a Syrian village of Khirbet Ammo, located near the town of Qamishli, as the local residents attempted to block the passage of a US military convoy through a checkpoint. An exchange of fire took place.

"One local resident was wounded. Another resident - a 14-year-old boy - was killed," Maj. Gen. Yury Borenkov, the commander of the center, said in a daily briefing.

"Only thanks to the efforts of the Russian servicemen, who arrived at the site of the incident, it was possible to prevent a further escalation of the conflict with the locals and to ensure the exit of the US military convoy in the direction of a US base in near the village of Khimo in Haseke province," Borenkov stressed.

18:51 GMT 12.02.2020

Turkey should have thought twice before asking NATO for support against the Syrian army in Idlib amid an escalation of violence in the embattled Syrian province, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

"Considering that, according to [French President Emmanuel] Macron, this organization's [NATO] brain is dead, I think that [Turkey] needs to think twice before turning to it. However, it is the sovereign right of each member of this wonderful organization to decide what they should do," Zakharova told reporters during the briefing, adding that NATO lacked the potential to resolve crises in the region.

17:40 GMT 12.02.2020

Trucks carrying multiple rocket launchers are moving from Turkey's border toward its observation posts in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, Turkish media reported.

According to Turkey's Anadolu agency, a caravan of 15 trucks is currently in the Reyhanli district of the Turkish province of Hatay en route to Idlib with the missile systems gathered from across different Turkish military units.

17:17 GMT 12.02.2020

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has called on the United States and NATO to take a more pronounced stance and support his country in Syria’s Idlib, the Turkish Defence Ministry said Wednesday.

"Our minister expressed his satisfaction with the US take on the latest events in Idlib. He underscored the need for the US and NATO to make a more concrete contribution there," it read.

15:10 GMT 12.02.2020

The US-led coalition against Daesh said in a statement on Wednesday that one US service member suffered a minor scratch in an incident when coalition troops in Syria reportedly killed two civilians.

"The US soldier had a minor superficial scratch while operating their equipment," coalition spokesperson Myles Caggins said via Twitter. "The soldier is back at work."

The coalition did not confirm or deny or deny the information about the civilian casualties. However, Caggins said in a statement earlier that they are investigating the incident.

 

15:03 GMT 12.02.2020

Reports of massive flows of refugees from the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria are baseless, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

"Reports of allegedly massive flows of refugees from the Idlib de-escalation zone do not have a factual basis. A significant part of the residents of Idlib province safely leaves dangerous areas and moves into areas controlled by the Syrian government," the ministry said in a statement.

"The main task of Russia and Turkey in Syria remains the eradication of international terrorist groups that have settled on its territory in order to ensure the return of Syrians to a peaceful life. We are convinced that, by not succumbing to the provocations of terrorists and by avoiding inconsistent hasty decisions, this mission of Russia and Turkey will be successfully implemented, "- the statement said. 

The situation in Syrian Idlib is worsened by militants obtaining weapons and ammunition from across the Turkish border, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

According to the ministry, the crisis is the result of militants attacking neighbouring peaceful areas in Syria, which prompted the Syrian government forces to respond.

"The civilians are suffering because of provocations in Idlib de-escalation zone by the terrorist groups that use 'live shield' against the Syrian government forces. The situation is exacerbated by the arrival of weapons and ammunition in the de-escalation zone via the Syrian-Turkish border, as well as the arrival of Turkish armoured vehicles and troops in the province of Idlib," the Russian ministry said in a press release.

"The real reason of the crisis in Idlib de-escalation zone is, unfortunately, the failure of our Turkish colleagues to adhere to their commitments on separating moderate opposition fighters from terrorists of Jabhat Nusra (banned in Russia) and Hurras ad-Din (linked to Al Qaeda, which is banned in Russia)," the press release read.

13:59 GMT 12.02.2020

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a Wednesday weekly briefing that Moscow thinks that the reason for the escalation of the situation in Syria’s Idlib province is Ankara’s failure to comply with the agreements reached at the Sochi talks in September 2018. She noted that the Turkey-controlled militants were transferred to the the Idlib province, where Ankara is carrying out its operation.

She further added that Moscow remains committed to the agreements reached in Sochi.

12:39 GMT 12.02.2020

Syria’s SANA news agency reported on Wednesday that a detachment of the US-led coalition against Daesh engaged in a skirmish with Syrian government forces near the town of Qamishli, in northern Syria earlier in the day.

The situation was later defused and the incident is currently under investigation. The coalition patrol squad has returned to base.

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