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Iran Press TV

Militants attack Russian forces from Turkey's zone in Syria's Idlib: Moscow

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 06 February 2020 3:04 PM

Russia says a number of its troops have been killed during attacks launched by militants from Turkey's de-escalation zone in Syria's Idlib province, where an intensified offensive is underway by the Syrian army forces against foreign-backed militant outfits.

"There has recently been a dangerous increase in tension and a surge of violence in Idlib," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday, adding, "Russian and Turkish military experts were tragically killed" there, without giving a toll.

The Syrian army, backed by Russian air cover, has already regained almost all territories once controlled by terrorists, except portions of Aleppo and large swaths of Idlib, the last stronghold of Takfiri militants, particularly the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

The Russian ministry said Idlib-based militants had staged "more than 1,000 attacks in the last two weeks of January" from a Turkish-controlled de-escalation zone in the flashpoint province. It stressed that most of the attacks had been conducted by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militant group.

The area was proclaimed a demilitarized zone under the Moscow-Ankara agreements. Back in mid-January, Russian and Turkish forces tried to impose a "regime of silence" there, however, the attacks only increased.

"The relocation of some armed groups out of the de-escalation zone to northeastern Syria and later to Libya has boosted the concentration of radical extremists over the boiling point," the Russian foreign ministry added.

Additionally on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said militant attacks against Russian military positions and on Syrian government troops were continuing from a Turkish-controlled zone in the region.

"In the Turkish zone of responsibility, aggressive activity by these terrorist groups is continuing and these aggressive actions are directed against the Syrian Republic's armed forces and Russian military sites in Syria," he said.

In August last year, Syrian troops commenced an ongoing full-scale offensive to flush terrorists out of these two regions and so far have made significant advances. The Syrian army says it is resolute to crush militants in these two regions and pave the way for the safe return of the displaced to their homes.

Separately on Thursday, a Turkish military convoy passed into Syria to protect foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists and impede army advances in Idlib, Syria's official news agency SANA reported, citing a statement released by the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces of the Arab country.

Over the past four years, the Turkish military has staged at least two unauthorized invasions into northern Syria to push back against Kurdish militants, which Ankara accuses of harboring subversive intentions against the Turkish administration.

Syria has denounced the offensives, saying it would respond in kind if the need arose.

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