MOSCOW, February 14. /TASS/. The Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Sides (part of Russia’s Defense Ministry) rejected Turkey’s reports that 63 Syrian troops were killed in the Idlib de-escalation zone, calling such statements irresponsible.
The Turkish side has claimed that its armed forces have allegedly eliminated 63 servicemen of the Syrian government troops in the de-escalation zone over the past 24 hours alone.
"Such statements about ‘the shelling attacks’ on the Syrian government troops by the Turkish armed forces and, all the more so, about casualties among Syrian servicemen as a result of them, have nothing to do with reality," the Center said in a statement circulated on Friday.
Such irresponsible statements further escalate the situation and do not meet the mutual interests of Russia and Turkey, the statement says.
The Turkish Defense Ministry officials bear responsibility for the provision of untrue information to Turkey’s leadership about the situation in the de-escalation zone, the Center stressed.
On February 10, Turkey’s Defense Ministry reported casualties among the Turkish military in Idlib, where five soldiers were killed and five more were wounded in the shelling of an observation post by the Syrian army. In response, the Turkish military hit 115 targets of the Syrian army, neutralizing 101 Syrian soldiers.
On February 3, Syrian artillery fire killed eight individuals; among them were civilians and Turkish troops. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 76 Syrian soldiers were eliminated when Turkey retaliated.
Four de-escalation zones were established in Syria under an agreement reached by the three Syrian ceasefire guarantor nations, namely Russia, Iran and Turkey, in May 2017 in Astana (now Nur-Sultan), Kazakhstan. Three of them are now controlled by Damascus while the fourth one located in the Idlib province and partially in the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces is still outside Damascus’ control, with a larger part of it being seized by Jabhat al-Nusra (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) militants.
The de-escalation zone in Idlib was set up to give shelter to militants and their families who were reluctant to surrender their arms voluntarily in Eastern Ghouta and in Syria’s southern regions. Twelve Turkish observation stations are operating in the Idlib province.