20:41 GMT25 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian Defence Ministry’s Centre for Syrian Reconciliation on Thursday refuted reports alleging that Russian combat aircraft recently made airstrikes on civilian targets in Syria's Idlib de-escalation zone.

    "Reports by a number of media outlets about strikes allegedly carried out by Russian combat aircraft on civilian targets in the Idlib de-escalation zone are false. Since the beginning of the ceasefire, the Russian Aerospace Forces have not conducted any sorties in the area", Maj. Gen. Yuri Borenkov, the centre's commander, said at the daily briefing.

    A new ceasefire regime was introduced in the Idlib de-escalation zone at midnight on 9 January. Western media earlier alleged that the Russian military carried out airstrikes in Idlib before the ceasefire had been agreed.

    Idlib is the last stronghold of militants in the Arab republic. According to Syrian President Bashar Assad, liberating Idlib is essential to putting an end to the nation's civil conflict.

    On 19 December, the Syrian army started a new military operation in southeastern Idlib to clear the area of terrorists, including those allied with Daesh and Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front. By 24 December, over 40 villages in Idlib had been retaken by government troops.

    Earlier this week, Syrian state-run media reported that Damascus had resumed its military operation against militants in the Idlib, over multiple ceasefire violations.

    The Russian Centre for Syrian Reconciliation has repeatedly called on militants to stop fighting and peacefully engage in conflict resolution. Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed that three corridors through which civilians could leave the Idlib de-escalation zone were currently in operation following the introduction of the ceasefire, including Al-Hadher in the Aleppo province as well as Abu Adh Dhuhur and Hobait in Idlib.

    *Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, IS, Islamic State), Tahrir al-Sham, Nusra Front are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.


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