News ID: 258133
Published: 0228 GMT September 01, 2019

Russia: US strikes in Syria's Idlib put cease-fire at risk

Russia: US strikes in Syria's Idlib put cease-fire at risk

Russia’s military on Sunday said the United States had mounted airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib without forewarning Moscow or Ankara, endangering a cease-fire there.

The strikes without a heads-up in the “de-escalation zone” breached previous agreements and caused several casualties, the Russian Defense Ministry said, Reuters reported.

It said Russian and Syrian warplanes had fully suspended raids against terrorists in Idlib Province in northwest Syria, after declaring a cease-fire that started on Saturday morning.

On Saturday, the US Central Command, part of the Department of Defense, said US forces struck an Al-Qaeda facility in Idlib in an attack aimed at the organization’s leadership. US airstrikes have at times hit targets linked to Al-Qaeda in northwest Syria in recent years.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes had pounded bases belonging to terrorists near the town of Maarat Misrin on Saturday. The UK-based monitor said more than 40 terrorists, including some commanders, were killed.

Interfax news agency cited Russia’s military as saying the strikes had hit between Maarat Misrin and Kefraya village.

While artillery hit parts of Idlib in the past 24 hours, there was a lull in airstrikes that had been pounding the region in recent weeks, the observatory said.

It was the second such cease-fire declared in the past month in Idlib, which is in Syria’s northwest corner – the only big chunk of the country still in terrorist hands. A truce in early August collapsed three days in, after which the Russian-backed Syrian Army pressed its offensive and gained ground.

Bouthaina Shaaban, a senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the cease-fire was temporary and would serve the strategy of Damascus “to liberate every inch.”

“(Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan will be forced to leave Syrian land ... This is our decision, not by his choice,” she told Al-Mayadeen TV in an interview late on Saturday.

Turkey, which backs militant factions, and Russia, Assad’s key ally, brokered a “de-escalation” deal in 2017 that sought to curb fighting in Idlib. It does not cover terrorist groups.

Turkey’s foreign minister said on Friday the military would leave only once there was a political solution, which remains elusive after more than eight years of war and several rounds of failed UN peace talks.


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