Ankara plays sig­nif­i­cant role in Idlib, sav­ing lives of many Syr­i­ans: Moscow

Turkey’s ef­forts in Idlib con­tinue to be praised by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. The lat­est of these trib­utes came from the coun­try’s part­ner in the Sochi deal, Rus­sia, which said that the role played by Turkey was quite sig­nif­i­cant for peace in the re­gio

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics - ÖZGENUR SEVİNÇ - MOSCOW

LEONID E. Slut­sky, the chair­man of the Com­mit­tee on In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs of the Rus­sian State Duma, has stressed that Ankara has ex­erted es­sen­tial ef­forts to save the lives of many Syr­i­ans and played an im­por­tant role in the peace process in north­west­ern Syria’s Idlib.

“Rus­sia has been closely co­op­er­at­ing with Turk­ish of­fi­cials. Ankara’s role in Idlib is sig­nif­i­cant. With the agree­ment we could save the lives of many peo­ple,” Slut­sky said in an event yes­ter­day or­ga­nized by the Rus­sian-Turk­ish Pub­lic Fo­rum at the State Duma.

Turkey and Rus­sia agreed in Sochi on Sept. 17 to pre­serve a cease-fire in Idlib and es­tab­lish a de­mil­i­ta­rized zone. The agree­ment was wel­comed as it is be­lieved to have pre­vented blood­shed.

Un­der­scor­ing that the sit­u­a­tion in Idlib is highly com­plex, Slut­sky stated that pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments can be ex­pected in the up­com­ing pe­riod and added that the re­cent de­vel­op­ments are rel­a­tively pos­i­tive com­pared to the pre­vi­ous years.

The 10-ar­ti­cle mem­o­ran­dum of the Sochi deal sug­gests that the Idlib de­mil­i­ta­rized area will be pre­served, while Turk­ish ob­ser­va­tion posts will be for­ti­fied and con­tinue to func­tion. The Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion will also take all the nec­es­sary mea­sures to en­sure that mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions and at­tacks on Idlib are avoided and the ex­ist­ing sta­tus quo is main­tained.

Slut­sky un­der­lined that rad­i­cal groups in­clud­ing Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), for­merly known as the al-Nusra Front, need to be pushed out of Idlib and fol­low­ing this step other con­flict- ing is­sues, such as the ex­is­tence of var­i­ous groups like the PKK-linked Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) would be ad­dressed.

Re­ply­ing to a ques­tion on the ex­is­tence of the YPG in the re­gion and Turkey’s con­cerns, Py­otr Tol­stoy, vice speaker of the State Duma, said that Rus­sia has been sup­port­ing Syria’s ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and added that they are aware of some in­ten­tions of form­ing in­de­pen­dent re­gions sup­ported by some coun­tries.

In the Syr­ian con­flict, Iran and Rus­sia have backed the As­sad regime in Syria, while Turkey has been sup­port­ing the mod­er­ate op­po­si­tion. The U.S., how­ever, has been sup­port­ing the PKK ter­ror­ist group’s Syr­ian af­fil­i­ate, the YPG, which leads the group known as the Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces (SDF) un­der the pre­text of fight­ing Daesh.

The PKK is listed as a ter­ror­ist group by the U.S. the Euro­pean Union and Turkey. Ankara also con­sid­ers the YPG to be the PKK’s Syria branch and a ter­ror­ist group. The dis­agree­ments over U.S. sup­port for YPG ter­ror­ists have led to a strain­ing of ties be­tween the two NATO al­lies.

Touch­ing on bi­lat­eral ties, Tol­stoy said that the Rus­sian-Turk­ish Pub­lic Fo­rum aims to boost re­la­tions and di­a­logue be­tween the two coun­tries.

Com­ment­ing on the is­sue of visa lib­er­al­iza­tion with Turkey, Tol­stoy pointed to Rus­sia’s se­cu­rity con­cerns. He said that as there are many Syr­ian refugees in Turkey who might like to move to Europe us­ing Rus­sia as a tran­sit point it would be con­sid­ered a chal­lenge for se­cu­rity in Rus­sia. He added that the Rus­sian-Turk­ish Pub­lic Fo­rum can work to­gether to en­able visa-free travel for jour­nal­ists of both coun­tries.

Thou­sands of peo­ple in var­i­ous op­po­si­tion-held ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly Idlib, gath­ered to­gether fol­low­ing the Fri­day prayer to protest the Bashar As­sad regime.

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