17:58 GMT16 July 2020
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    ANKARA (Sputnik) - While the Syrian government has regained control over most of the country's territories following several years of armed conflicts with the opposition and militant groups, including terrorist organizations, the Idlib de-escalation zone remains a stronghold of insurgency and is still being cleared of terrorists.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Monday that Ground and air operations in the Syrian province of Idlib should be stopped immediately. "Attacks from the air and land in Idlib should be stopped immediately, the ceasefire regime must be secured and extended," Akar told reporters in Ankara.

    While the Syrian government has regained control over most of the country's territories following several years of armed conflicts with opposition and militant groups, including terrorist organizations, the Idlib de-escalation zone remains a stronghold of insurgency and is still being cleared of terrorists.

    According to the Kremlin, the terrorism hotbed in Idlib destabilizes the situation in Syria and undermines the work toward the political settlement of the conflict. Moreover, Russian officials have repeatedly warned that terrorists were planning a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Idlib with an aim to provoke Western retaliation against the Syrian government.

    WATCH Syrian Army Continue to Pound Terrorist Positions in Idlib

    On Friday, Russia, Turkey, and Iran held a trilateral meeting in Tehran on the situation in Idlib. The leaders of the three countries focused on the conflict in Syria and the situation in the country's Idlib de-escalation zone.

    As a result of the summit, the presidents adopted the Tehran Declaration, arguing whether it would be necessary to include an item on the ceasefire in Idlib. As a result, the leaders confined themselves to more vague and broad wording, calling on militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone for a truce, stressing that resolving the problem with terrorists in the area is the key to establishing peace in the country.

    Meanwhile, Turkish General Staff reportedly has ordered its allies from the armed Syrian opposition in northern Syria to put their units on high alert amid worsening situation around the province of Idlib.

    In particular, the order concerns about 50,000 members of the Free Syrian Army stationed in the Afrin, Azaz, Jarabalus, and Al Bab districts that came under their control during the Euphrates Shield and the Olive Branch joint operations of the Turkish Armed Forces and the armed Syrian opposition in 2016-2018, the Yeni Safak newspaper reported.

    The number of Turkish soldiers deployed to these areas exceeded 30,000. Turkey also doubled the number of armored vehicles and artillery batteries on the border with Syria and strengthened its 12 observation posts within Idlib to monitor de-escalation.

    READ MORE: Success of Initiative on Truce in Idlib Relies on Turkey's Actions — Scholars


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