The United States calls on Russia and Syria to reduce violence in the Idlib province and comply with the ceasefire agreement, US Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement. “We call on all parties, including Russia and the Syrian regime, to abide by their commitments and de-escalate violence in the area, protect all civilians, including humanitarian aid workers, and allow unhindered humanitarian access to address the humanitarian disaster created by the Assad regime’s forces,” Palladino said on Thursday.
The Idlib de-escalation zone now remains the last major stronghold of terrorists and armed rebels in Syria. In September 2018, ceasefire guarantors Russia and Turkey agreed to set up in Idlib a 9-12 mile deep demilitarized zone, which would be cleared of heavy weapons and militants. However, despite progress in the withdrawal of weapons and fighters from the area, remaining militants regularly commit ceasefire violations by shelling nearby provinces. Moreover, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in January that the Nusra Front terrorist group (banned in Russia) had taken over around 70 per cent of the demilitarized zone. On Wednesday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said that Russian combat planes had delivered a high-precision airstrike against a weapons depot belonging to the Nusra Front in Idlib to thwart an attack on Russian airbase in Hmeimim with the use of aerial drones. (UNI)