Russia has strongly dismissed US President Donald Trump’s warning to Syria not to carry out a full-scale offensive against terrorists in the militant-held province of Idlib, stressing that the northwestern region is a “nest of terrorism.”
“Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very dangerous, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a press conference in the capital Moscow on Tuesday.
His comments came a day after Trump warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his close allies Russia and Iran, not to “recklessly attack” Idlib, claiming that civilian people could lost their lives “in this potential human tragedy.”
Washington has been conducting airstrikes inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. It has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians across the Arab country. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of destroying Daesh.
The US has accused the Syrian government of attacking civilians with chemicals in previous operations, including in Douma near Damascus and in Khan Sheikhun, in Idlib. The Syrian authorities have strongly denied any involvement in the two cases, saying the attacks had been carried out by militants to slow Syria’s progress in the fight against terror.
Syria and its allies, including Russia, believe a similar scenario could be staged in Idlib. Moscow has already submitted evidence to the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) showing that terrorists in Idlib are preparing to set up another chemical attack false flag to frame Damascus.
Peskov added that the presence of militants in Idlib was undermining the Syrian peace process and had turned the flash-point region to a base, from which terrorists carry out attacks, notably with “various unmanned aerial vehicles”, on Russian “temporary bases” in the Arab country.
“A fairly large group of terrorists has settled there and of course this leads to a general destabilization of the situation. It undermines attempts to bring the situation onto the track of a political-diplomatic settlement,” he further noted, adding that the Kremlin was aware that Syrian army was “preparing to resolve this problem.”
Russia commenced an anti-terror campaign, mainly through airstrikes, in militancy-infested Syria in September 2015, upon an official request from the Syrian president. Its assistance to the Syrian military in eliminating terrorists has significantly helped Damascus in retaking militant-held areas and cities across the Arab country.
Iran has been also helping Damascus in its fight against various factions of terrorists on its soil through providing the government troops with advisory assistance, based on an invitation by the Syrian government, since foreign-backed militancy broke out in the Arab country in March 2011.
Meanwhile, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Damascus monitor based in the UK, reported that Russian warplanes had purportedly resumed air raids against terrorists’ positions in Idlib earlier in the day after a hiatus of several weeks.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will host his Turkish and Russian counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, respectively, on September 7 in an attempt to find ways to end the ongoing crisis in Syria.
Peskov also confirmed that the situation in Idlib would be “one of the main issues on the agenda” at the upcoming trilateral peace talks in Tehran.
According to the source, at least ten Russian Sukhoi jets launched dozens of airstrikes over the southern and western parts of the Idlib Governorate.
The source said the Russian Air Force specifically targeted the Jisr Al-Shughour District, including the towns of Al-Shughour, Mahambel, Basnqoul, Zayzooun, Ziyarah, Jadariyah, Kafrdeen, Al-Sahn, Saraseef, and dozen others.