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US strikes cannot solve problem of terrorism in Syria’s Idlib, says diplomat

On August 31, the United States carried out an airstrike on Syria’s Idlib Governorate

MOSCOW, September 12. /TASS/. The problem of large-scale terrorist presence in Idlib cannot be solved through airstrikes similar to the ones carried out by the United States on August 31, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday.

"We believe that the problem of large-scale terrorist presence cannot be solved by means of such airstrikes. On the other hand, it is quite possible to undermine efforts aimed at stabilizing the situation by such actions," she said.

Zakharova added that that "the Idlib de-escalation zone is currently controlled by about 50,000 heavily armed terrorists who have combat experience."

The diplomat noted that the US airstrike had effectively jeopardized the moratorium on hostilities that had been imposed on the same day.

Russia is confident that it is only possible to achieve long-term stabilization and security in Idlib by returning to compliance with the Sochi Memorandum of September 17, 2018, she went on to say. "That concerns, first and foremost, the creation of a demilitarized space along the internal perimeter of the de-escalation zone and the neutralization of the terrorist threat," Zakharova stressed.

On August 31, the United States carried out an airstrike on an area between Ma’arrat Misrin and Kafr Haya in Syria’s Idlib Governorate. According to the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria (part of Russia’s Defense Ministry), the airstrike resulted in multiple casualties and destruction. The Russian military noted that the United States’ actions violated all the agreements that had been reached, because Washington had notified neither Russia nor Turkey about the operation. The Reconciliation Center underscored that the US had jeopardized the ceasefire in the Idlib de-escalation zone and derailed it in a number of areas.

Over 300 attacks by militants

Militants have carried out over 300 attacks in Syria’s Idlib and the country’s northwestern regions so far in September, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated.

"Terrorists of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [one of the names of the al-Nusra Front, a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia — TASS] continue to shell the positions of the Syrian government forces and carry out drone attacks on the Russian air base Khmeimim, even despite the ceasefire introduced on August 31 in the Idlib de-escalation zone," she said. "In the first ten days of September, militants have carried out over 300 attacks. On September 3, they made another attempt to attack Khmeimim using two drones."

The diplomat stressed that these aggressive attacks of the terrorists lead to casualties among the civilian population of local settlements and the Syrian military. "In the past month alone, about 150 Syrian troops were killed in Idlib, over 470 were injured. As a result of the attacks by the terrorists, about 50 civilians were killed, over 100 were injured," Zakharova added.