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Moscow and Damascus Must Bring an Overwhelming Response to Terrorists: Lavrov

MOSCOW, Russia – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow and Damascus would give an “overwhelming” response to activists launching attacks in the north-western province of Idlib, the last major foreign-backed terrorists in the Arab state, Reuters reported Tuesday.
At a press conference on Monday, Lavrov said that “terrorists systematically organize provocations and attack the positions of the Syrian army and communities, as well as the Russian air base Hmeimim with several rocket systems and drones”.
“Neither the Syrian Army nor Russia will allow such outrages without retaliation,” Lavrov said.
The top Russian diplomat also called for the immediate separation of the Syrian opposition to terrorist groups in the Idlib de-escalation zone, in accordance with the agreement reached between Russia and Turkey last year, to prevent new provocations from armed groups.
Turkey and Russia, close allies of Syria, negotiated an agreement in September 2018 to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib that would be evacuated from all heavy weapons and militants. The activists, however, persisted in their stay in the area and refused to leave the area. In addition, terrorist groups have repeatedly violated the agreement by launching numerous attacks on outposts held by the Syrian army and Russian forces.
Lavrov said special contact mechanisms between Russian and Turkish leaders and between the two countries’ defense officials had been put in place to monitor the implementation of the agreement.
“The major role in these efforts must be played by Turkey. We insist that it must be done as soon as possible,” he said, adding that a large number of provocations were taking place in Idlib against both Russian and Syrian troops.
The Russian Foreign Minister has also criticized some foreign parties for carrying out a “policy of aggressive and irresponsible interference” in the region, which would have resulted in “illegal trafficking of arms, oil, artifacts and drugs in Syria and throughout the region.”
Idlib remains the only large area in the hands of anti-Damascus militants after government forces – backed by Iran and Russia – have managed to cancel militant gains across the country and bring back almost the entire Syrian territory under the control of the government.
It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 activists are active in this volatile province.
In recent weeks, the Syrian armed forces have carried out anti-terrorist operations around Idlib. The Syrian army warned civilians to leave Idlib as the latest military campaign to oust terrorists from the area was being prepared. If Idlib was taken over by the Syrian forces, it would be a defeat for the militants.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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