Turkey has not fulfilled memorandum on Idlib, says Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called on Turkey to meet its commitments under a joint memorandum signed in September on de-escalation in Syria’s Idlib, Russia's state news agency TASS reported 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," the Russian foreign minister said, adding, "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."

The plan, designed to prevent a large-scale Russian-Syrian attack on the northwestern region of Idlib, a large province bordering Turkey that is home to more than 3 million civilians, was agreed on on September 17.

Lavrov while underlining the importance to prevent a further growth in terrorist presence under the pretext of observing the ceasefire reached with Turkey, highlighted that  "the withdrawal of all radicals and military hardware from it have not been fully implemented."

The Russian foreign minister also said that following a number of successful operations by the government forces with the support of Russian Aerospace Defence Forces the situation in the war-torn country has significantly stabilised.

A lot needs to be done to neutralise sleeper cells of radical armed groups and the Islamic State (ISIS) has been destroyed, Lavrov noted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed on a 15-20 km deep demilitarised zone in Idlib, to be created by October 15, roughly a month after the agreement on the zone. However, Turkey asked for extra time and delay the start of joint patrolling in Idlib, citing its inability to guarantee security.