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Difficulties persist in setting up demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib, says diplomat

MOSCOW, November 22. /TASS/. Difficulties persist in setting up a demilitarized zone in the Syrian province of Idlib, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Thursday.

"The situation in the country’s northwest, particularly in Idlib, still causes the most concern," she said. "Despite Ankara’s significant efforts to implement the Russian-Turkish memorandum signed on September 17, difficulties persist in setting up a demilitarized zone in Idlib," Zakharova added.

In this regard, she mentioned last week’s attack on the Syrian government troops’ positions near the Jurin settlement, carried by terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda (outlawed in Russia), which claimed the lives of 18 military servicemen.

Russia is also concerned about the United States’ activities in Syria, the foreign ministry spokeswoman went on to say. "The so-called US-led coalition has been conducting intensive airstrikes on the outskirts of Hajin, occupied by ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terror group outlawed in Russia - TASS], causing numerous civilian deaths," Zakharova stressed. "According to the Syrian media, the coalition has once again used white phosphorus shells," she added.

"By maintaining its illegal military presence in Syria and failing to specify its purpose and provide a timeframe, Washington makes it clear that it is not interested in an early resolution of the crisis in the country," the Russian diplomat said.

According to the Russian-Turkish memorandum, signed in Sochi on September 17 following talks between the two countries’ presidents, a 15 to 20 kilometer-wide demilitarized zone was to be set up in the Syrian province of Idlib by October 15. However, Ankara asked to be given more time and postpone the launch of joint patrols, saying that it was impossible to guarantee security.