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Moscow encourages Ankara to fulfill memorandum on Idlib - Lavrov

Certain hotbeds of terrorist presence remain in the country, said Russian Foreign Minister

TASS, March 3. Russia is calling on Turkey to meet its commitments under a joint memorandum on de-escalation in Syria’s Idlib, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on Sunday.

"Certain hotbeds of terrorist presence remain in the country. First of all, this concerns the Idlib de-escalation zone, where most territory is controlled by militants from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group (one of names of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) carrying out provocative raids against civilians, Russian and Syrian military," Lavrov recalled. "Against this background, it is necessary to continue efficiently fighting against terrorism. We encourage our Turkish partners to meet their commitments under the September 17, 2018 memorandum on stabilizing the situation in Idlib."

Russia’s top diplomat underlined the importance to prevent a further growth in terrorist presence under the pretext of observing the ceasefire reached with Turkey. "So far, the document’s provisions envisaging the creation of a demilitarized zone and the withdrawal of all radicals and military hardware from it have not been fully implemented," he noted.

In general, after a number of successful operations by the government forces with the support of Russian Aerospace Defense Forces the situation in Syria on the ground has significantly stabilized, Lavrov said.

The Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia) as an organization pretending to be a quasi state has been destroyed, but a lot needs to be done to neutralize sleeper cells of radical armed groups, he noted.

On September 17, 2018 in Sochi Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on by October 15 to create a 15-20 km deep demilitarized zone in Idlib along the contact line between the Syrian government forces and the armed opposition. However, Ankara asked to give it extra time and delay the start of joint patrolling in Idlib due to its inability to guarantee security.