China calls for immediate lifting of all sanctions against Syria

By News Desk -2020-03-310

A Chinese envoy on Monday called for complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures against Syria, noting that the sanctions will harm the vulnerable country’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We call for complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures,” Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, also president of the Security Council for the month of March, told the council’s video-teleconferencing meeting on the situation in Syria.Getting Rich with Bitcoin, Without Even Buying BitcoinDailywebAds by Revcontent

“We are seriously concerned about the negative impact of unilateral sanctions on countries’ capacity to respond to the pandemic, especially for vulnerable countries like Syria,” he said. “Civilians and innocent people are suffering severely from those sanctions.”

China’s UN permanent representative Zhang Jun speaks at a Security Council meeting about Afghanistan at the UN Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., March 10, 2020. /Reuters

Zhang said that China supports the call of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in this regard.

“Our position is explained in detail in the recent joint letter to the secretary-general, together with Russia, among others. We hope the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs joins the voice of the secretary-general and high commissioner for human rights in this regard,” said Zhang.

Speaking about the situation in Syria, Zhang said that ever since Russia and Turkey agreed on a ceasefire arrangement early this month, the security situation in northwestern Syria has significantly improved.

“We appreciate their diplomatic efforts and encourage relevant parties to continue implementing the ceasefire,” he said.

“It is our consistent position to support the political solution to the conflict in Syria. We appreciate the painstaking efforts of the special envoy (Geir Pedersen) and encourage him to continue facilitating dialogue between the Syrian parties, toward an inclusive Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process in line with Resolution 2254,” said Zhang.

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“We reiterate the future of the country must be decided by the Syrian people, without foreign interference,” he said.

Credit: CGTN

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Al-Jaafari calls for lifting economic coercive measures imposed on Syria in the light of coronavirus outbreak globally

Monday, 30 March 2020 17:15 

ST

New York, (ST)_Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, called for lifting the illegitimate economic, coercive measures imposed on Syria and other states, particularly after the spread of Coronavirus in the world. 

Al-Jaafari, speaking at a UN Security council session on the situation in Syria via video, said that the continuation of the economic sanctions stresses the hypocrisy adopted by some sides in dealing with the humanitarian situation in Syria and those states. 

He thanked the People’s Republic of China, for presiding over the work of the Council in these difficult and exceptional circumstances, and for China’s efforts in assisting 89 member states affected by the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, in a true embodiment of the values and meanings of international cooperation, humanitarian feeling and impartial implementation of the responsibility of the Presidency of the Council in maintaining international peace and security under the provisions of the Charter. 

Al-Jaafari expressed hope to jointly overcome the catastrophic repercussions of this pandemic. This pandemic has united our peoples away from the efforts of some governments to create a rift between them, and revealed the fragility of the international structures that have existed since the end of the Second World War, and their inability to serve humanity and mankind. 

In this context, the Syrian delegation reiterated its strong condemnation of the unilateral economic coercive measures used by some governments of member states of this organization as a weapon in their sinful war against Syria, and on other member states, which prevent, among other things, the Syrians and their medical healthcare workers from obtaining their basic needs to prevent this pandemic and dealing with possible cases of infection, as well as preventing the provision of food needs and basic services to Syrians. 

“Persistence of imposing these unjust coercive measures that violate international law, the Charter of the United Nations and human rights instruments, and not responding to our repeated requests to end them, the most recent of which is contained in the joint letter sent by the Permanent Representatives of eight countries: China, Cuba, DPRK, Nicaragua, Iran, Russia, Syria and Venezuela to His the Secretary-General on 25 March 2020, demonstrate once again, what we have always emphasized in terms of hypocrisy that some have adopted in dealing with the humanitarian situation in my country and other countries. In this regard, my delegation welcomes the prompt positive response of the Secretary-General to the initiative of the eight countries,” al-Jaafari said. 

He added that Syria has received recently a number of high ranking officials of international organizations partnering with the Syrian government in humanitarian work, including Mrs. Henrietta Four, UNICEF Executive Director, and Mr. David Paisley, Executive Director of the World Food Program, Mr. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The discussions with them were positive, and included stressing the pursuit of joint cooperation, in a manner consistent with the principles of non-politicized humanitarian action, and the willingness of the Syrian government to facilitate access to all parts of the country from within Syrian territory and through a mechanism that includes alongside the Syrian state both the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to ensure that aid reaches those who deserve it and that it does not reach terrorists. 

“Syria has affirmed to its partners the necessity to compel the Turkish regime and its affiliated terrorist organizations to stop their crimes, and to enable the Syrian civilians detained by these terrorist organizations in some areas of Idleb to return to their homes in areas liberated from terrorism, and to provide immediate assistance to them from inside Syria, and support national efforts to normalize life once again,” al-Jaafari affirmed. 

He went on to say that Syria stresses that it is unacceptable to allow the terrorism-sponsoring Turkish regime to take advantage of the suffering of the Syrian refugees and use them as a bargaining card to blackmail Europe and pressure European governments to support this regime militarily under the umbrella of NATO or to give it advantages and privileges of European Union countries. It is also unacceptable to tolerate the Turkish regime’s support for terrorism and to transfer publicly, without shame, terrorists from Idleb to Libya and to other countries, after it had transferred, several years ago, many terrorists from Libya to Syria. 

“The Syrian delegation again draws the kind attention of the Security Council to the fact that the doors of Syria are wide open to receive Syrian refugees to return to their homeland, and that the Syrian state has created all conditions to ensure a dignified return to them,” al-Jaafari said. 

He condemned the prevention by the American forces and their affiliated terrorist gangs, which occupy al-Tanf area in which the Rukban camp is located, of the return of displaced persons in the camp to their chosen areas of residence. The Syrian government reaffirms its full readiness to facilitate their return and rid them of the inhuman conditions in which they live, and the exploitation of American occupation forces and their tools, which claim that they are unwilling to return. 

“The terrorist organizations supported by the Turkish regime still impose their control on some areas of Idleb Governorate,” al-Jaafari added. 

He went on to say that on Monday, March 16th, 2020, those terrorist organizations, supported by the Turkish occupation forces, attacked the facilities of humanitarian NGOs in the cities of Idleb and Ariha in northwest Syria, looting and seizing their assets, and assaulting their volunteers. 

“In my letter sent to your good self on March 24th, 2020, I conveyed to you that Erdogan’s regime and its terrorist proxies continue to use water as war weapon against civilians in Al-Hassaka city and surrounding congregations north-east Syria. It keeps cutting of the water from Allok station and its wells which prevents million Syrian civilians, the majority of which is children and women, from drinking water. This is a war crime especially in the time we are all trying to avoid the spread of COVID-19 pandemic,” al-Jaafari said. 

He stressed that some member states and OCHA were dead silent in dealing with such information, while they broke all hell loose because of alleged rumors of Gaziantep office, which became a hub for terrorist organizations and their supporting countries with the sole aim of tarnishing the image of the Syrian government. 

“In the phone call between the Syrian and the Russian presidents, on March 6th 2020, my government welcomed the achievements of the Russian leadership on March 5th, that adds to the efforts aiming to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria expressed in the latest agreement. Furthermore, the agreement stressed the necessity of combating terrorism. The Syrian government has been fully committed to all ceasefire agreements that were concluded previously, and this also applies to the recent Moscow agreement concerning Idleb. Although we do not trust the Turkish part, that has not honored the two year- old Astana agreements, nor Sochi agreement that was concluded a year and a half ago before Moscow agreement, we are looking forward to the full and timely implementation of Moscow agreement by the Turkish regime’s terrorist groups, since it has guaranteed their commitment, the Syrian diplomat said. 

He underlined that Pederson has just conveyed to the UN that the Syrian national delegation accepted the agenda to continue the work of the constitutional committee. “Thus, the other party no longer has any excuse to evade its responsibilities, especially that its empty maneuvers and futile attempts were behind the impediment of the constitutional committee work. We were also informed that during the last period, the Syrian national delegation has suggested many proposals for an agenda according to the rules of procedure, but they were all rejected without any explanation, which led to the disruption of the Committee’s third session, until now,” al-Jaafari concluded.

هل يستفيد اليمن من الصراع الروسيّ ـ السعوديّ؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

لا بدّ في المنطلق من الإشارة الى ان هذا الصراع الروسي – السعودي يندلع بعد علاقات جيدة بين البلدين ابتدأت قبل نحو خمس سنوات، كما أنه يتضمن دوراً أميركياً كبيراً يقف وراء التصعيد السعودي.

لذلك فهو قتال شرس بأسلحة النفط والغاز، من شأنه الانسحاب على مجمل مواقف هذه البلدان الثلاثة في اسواق الطاقة والاقتصاد والعلاقات السياسية، ويتطلب حشد أكبر كمية ممكنة من التحالفات والمؤيدين.

ضمن هذه المعطيات يجوز السؤال عن مدى الاستفادة الممكنة لليمن من تراجع العلاقات بين السعودية وروسيا واتجاهها الى تصعيد أكبر.

لمزيد من التوضيح، فإن موسكو والرياض نسجتا قبل خمس سنوات تحالفاً في اسواق النفط ادى الى نشوء حلف بين منظمة اوبيك وروسيا اسمه «اوبيك» منجزاً استقراراً في اسعار النفط حول 68 دولاراً للبرميل على اساس محاصصات دقيقة بين دول الانتاج.

لقد انعكس هذا الوضع بتحسن كبير في العلاقات السياسية بين موسكو والرياض، فكانت السياسة الروسية تؤيد ما يتعلق بآل سعود مباشرة وتبتعد عما يضايقهم بشكل غير مباشر.

لكن سورية شكلت استثناء على هذه القاعدة بدليل ان هذين البلدين كانا في مواقع متنافسة حتى تاريخ انكفاء الدور السعودي في سورية قبل أكثر من سنة.

اما ما يتعلق باليمن، فإن روسيا قبل خمس سنوات أيّدت في مجلس الأمن الدولي تدخلاً سعودياً – إماراتياً في اليمن لمواجهة ما أسماه القرار «انقلاباً حوثياً» على السلطة الشرعيّة فيه.

وظلت موسكو مصرّة حتى قبل شهر تقريباً أن «دولة صنعاء» مشروع انقلابيّ صرف لا يمكن التعاون معه، هذا على الرغم من الانتصارات الكبيرة التي أنجزتها هذه الدولة اليمنية في وجه قوات سعودية – إماراتية وحشد كبير من المرتزقة السودانيين واليمنيين والباكستانيين ودعم بحري وجوي اميركي – بريطاني – اسرائيلي ومصري ومتنوّع.

ان انكشاف هذه الهجمات التي اتضح انها تندرج في اطار الهيمنة القطبية الاميركية مع مصالح مباشرة للسعودية في اليمن ومصالح إماراتية ايضاً، واتضاح مدى ضعف القوى اليمنية المؤيدة لهذه الهجمات، لم ترغم موسكو على تغيير مواقفها بشكل بدا فيه التنسيق النفطي بينها وبين الرياض اكثر اهمية من تداعيات حرب اليمن. هنا ظهرت روسيا دولة براجماتية لكنها لم تشارك على الاقل في الهجوم الخليجي على اليمن واكتفت بتصريحات انما عند اللزوم فقط.

إلا أن هناك مستجدات تدفع نحو خروج روسيا عن صمتها في الحرب الاميركية – السعودية على اليمن وصولاً الى حدود دعمها لدولة صنعاء اذا اقتضى الامر.

ما هو هذا الجديد؟

يندرج في إطار عاملين مستجدين: الاول هو انفجار حلف «اوبيك» لخلاف على الحصص الإنتاجية وبالتالي على تحديد الاسعار.

والثاني صمود دولة صنعاء ونجاحها في الوصول على مقربة من حدود السعودية من ناحية محافظة الجوف.

بالنسبة لانفجار حلف اوبيك مع روسيا، فسببه إصرار سعودي على خفض حصص دول هذا التحالف نحو مليوني برميل يومياً يضاف الى خفض كان قد حدث قبل بضعة اشهر.

هنا تذرّعت السعودية بضرورات الخفض للمحافظة على السعر.

فلم تقبل روسيا بهذه الذريعة وفهمت انها لإنقاذ صناعة النفط الصخري الأميركي الشديد الكلفة، فأميركا تحتاج الى اكثر من 45 دولاراً لإنتاج البرميل الواحد. وهذا ليس ممكناً في ظل المحافظة على وتيرة الإنتاج نفسها في وقت تراجع فيه الإنتاج العالمي بمعدل 40 في المئة بسبب الذعر الذي يجتاح العالم من انتشار وباء الكورونا، لكن روسيا رفضت خفض إنتاجها لأنها اعتبرت ان تداعيات كورونا لن تكون طويلة الأمد بما لا يستدعي خفض الانتاج. وحافظت على معدل إنتاجها، وذهبت ردة الفعل السعودية المنسّقة مع السياسة الاميركية نحو الاعلان عن وقف التنسيق النفطي مع روسيا ورفع انتاجها من9.5 ملايين برميل الى 13 مليون برميل يومياً في موقف تحدّ لافت للروس وفعلت مثلها الإمارات التي اعلنت عن رفع انتاجها بمعدل مليون برميل يومياً.

هنا ظهر الاميركيون علناً معلنين ان خفض الاسعار الذي اوصل سعر البرميل الى 33 دولاراً مفيد جداً للطبقة الشعبية الاميركية التي اصبح باستطاعتها شراء الوقود بأسعار رخيصة.

هنا ظهر تناقض عند الاميركيين الذين بدوا كمن يحاول الاستفادة السياسية من حركة اسعار النفط صعوداً ونزولاً، فإذا ارتفع زعموا أنه لحماية النفط الصخري الذي يتطلب استخراجه كلفة عالية، زاعمين أنهم يحمون بذلك الشركات الاميركية وعمالتها، اما اذا انخفض فيدعون على الفور انه لصالح شراء الفئات الشعبية وقوداً رخيصاً.

إلا انهم يفضلون بالحقيقة خفض الإنتاج لدعم آلاف شركات النفط الصخري ذات التأثير الكبير على التفاعلات السياسية الاميركية.

لجهة العامل الثاني، فإن دعم مجلس الأمن للهجوم السعودي على اليمن لم يؤد الى حسم المعركة، بل كشف عن نجاح دولة صنعاء بصد الهجوم عن مناطقها واستدارتها نحو هجمات مضادة وصلت الى الحدود السعوديّة بمعارك برية مع تمكّنها من الوصول الى وسط السعودية بهجمات صاروخية وأخرى بالطائرات المسيرة.

فانقلبت المعركة الى محاولات سعودية لإبعاد قوات صنعاء عن بعض انحاء محافظة الجوف حيث توجد آبار نفطية وغازية.

فأين هي مصلحة روسيا؟

اصبحت التفاهمات مع السعودية صعبة وتتجه الى مزيد من التصعيد بسبب الاصرار الاميركي على قطع العلاقات السعودية مع كل من روسيا والصين باستغلال حاجة ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان لهم في معركته الداخلية في السعودية لمحاصرة إيران بشكل دائم.

كما ان الحلف السعودي العاجز عن تحقيق انتصار في اليمن اتضح أنه أضعف من مشروع السيطرة على صنعاء، لذلك فإن روسيا المنتصرة في سورية ترى تقدمها الاقليمي رهن بمدى انسجامها مع تحالفات الدولة السورية في العراق واليمن وضرورة نسجها لعلاقات معهما في اطار استراتيجي يجمع بين السياسة والاقتصاد، علماً ان اليمن يحتوي على اهم معابر عالمية وكثير من النفط والغاز والرجال.

Abdul Mahdi Says US Pressuring Iraq to Cut Ties with Iran

 March 9, 2020

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister said the US is pressurizing Baghdad to sever relations with Tehran, but Iraqis will never allow their country to become a staging ground for clashes between other countries.

“By withdrawing from the JCPOA and putting pressures on Iran and Iraq, the US further complicated the regional situation, and is now mounting pressure on us and urges the severance of ties between Iraq and Iran,” said Adil Abdul Mahdi in a meeting with Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani in Baghdad.

Abdul Mahdi has remained in office as the caretaker prime minister of Iraq since his resignation in November.

Abdul Mahdi further underlined that the Iraqi people and government will never allow the Arab country to be a venue for the settlement of conflicts or clashes between other countries.

Praising the Iranian government and nation for their genuine support for Iraq in the difficult years of the war against terrorism, he expressed gratitude to Tehran for offering assistance in the battle with a novel coronavirus epidemic.

“The geopolitical logic dictates that we employ the potential of our neighbors to fulfill our national interests and security,” AbdulMahdi stated.

For his part, Shamkhani highlighted the leading role of Iraq in restoring stability and calm to the region, and voiced Iran’s support for the immediate formation of a popular government in the Arab country.

There is hard evidence that a Western-Arab-Hebrew axis is doing its utmost to obstruct stability in Iraq, Shamkhani said, adding that Takfiri terrorists were the West’s proxies that only sought Iraq’s disintegration.

The Iranian official also lauded the Iraqi Parliament for ratifying a bill on the expulsion of American military forces, saying the Iraqi army and popular forces have proved their ability to ensure security without reliance on foreign forces.

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Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Ansarullah is the front line, not China-Russia

March 02, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

During the last days, we saw dramatic changes in the Syrian situation. For the fourth time in the last years, Turkey invaded Syria. But the actual invasion is quite different since it is directly targeted against the Syrian army. This was confirmed, on March 1, by the Turkish defense minister and, on March 2, by Erdogan.

The Turkish aggression is carried out by thousands of troops, by thousands of military vehicles, and by air forces, including a significant number of armed drones. Concerning the concrete situation on the ground, there are different narratives. Apparently, on February 27, over thirty of invading Turkish military personnel were killed by a strike coming from Syria, Russia, or both; these Turkish military personnel were mixed with terrorist forces and therefore difficult to discern. Subsequently, there was obviously some confusion among the Syrian side and its allies, which allowed the Turkish army to make some important casualties.

In the last weeks, the Syrian Army had made big progresses against he terrorists around Idleb. The latter were on the brink of complete collapse. Turkey did not want to accept their defeat and this was the reason for the Turkish aggression. It is certainly true that Turkey was an ally of the terrorist forces in Syria during the whole war. But this time, the Turkish army fights directly together with the terrorists against the Syrian army. This has created a new situation, even if it is not yet a full-scale war; for example, some of the so-called Turkish „observation posts“ are surrounded by the Syrian army, but were not attacked.

The Syrian army is quickly adapting to the new situation. In particular, on March 2, the crucial city Saraqeb (on the junction of the two highways M4 and M5) could be recaptured from the Turkish and terrorist forces. The Syrians have declared a no-fly-zone over the region (Russian planes being the unique exception) and they are bringing more air defense systems to the front, in order to confront the Turkish air attacks. It also seems that the Syrian army has decided to postpone the liberation of the M4 between Saraqeb and Lattakia in order to concentrate on the more essential M5 between Damascus and Aleppo.

Hezbollah has lost some fighters by the Turkish aggression. On March 1, a massive funeral with thousands of people was hold in Beirut. On February 29, for the first time, the Iranian Advisory Center in Syria published a statement, warning the Turkish side of „the great risks of continuing the aggression against Syria“. We can conclude that these close allies of the Syrian army also adjust their position, closely monitoring the new developments.

Since Russia decided in 2015, on the request of the Syrian government, to actively support the Syrian army, it was always clear that the aim was the fight against terrorism. There is no doubt that Russia will continue with these politics. On the other hand, with respect to the Turkish invasion, it is not to expect that Russia will militarily intervene directly. Of course, Russia will defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, but merely on the political and diplomatic level. However, there will be some major grey zone since the fight against terrorism cannot simply be distinguished from the fight against the Turkish invaders.

Very probably, the planned meeting (March 5) between Putin and Erdogan in Moscow will not resolve the problem of the Turkish invasion. One may expect that Putin will put some red lines in order to avoid a full-scale war between Syria and Turkey. Moreover, he will insist that the Syrian side is the just side. But Russia cannot handle the Turkish aggression. This is a problem between Turkey on the one hand and Syria, together with her regional allies, on the other hand. China will have a similar position. There will be diplomatic, economical, and some political support for Syria from China, but not much more, at least not openly.

I think that it is completely wrong to criticize Russia or China for these positions. They are not the masters of an alternative world. They cannot dictate a political agenda. They have neither the strength nor the intention of doing so. No country should expect that its problems will be solved by China and/or Russia. It is also wrong to see Putin as the one big infallible chess player who holds the reins. As leader of his country he has his point of view just as the leaders of the other players have their point of view. Nobody is in the possession of the absolute truth. However, the history of Russia and China shows that these countries are loyal to her allies and do not exchange them like clothes. As permanent members of the Security Council they will defend the interests of Syria. But they will continue to have as good as possible relations with USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

China and Russia are strong and influential countries, but the creation of a post-Western world needs quite a few other countries. Militarily speaking, the current front line between the Western empires and the new world is in the Middle East (West Asia). On the one hand, we have the aggressive countries USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. The other side is represented by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Ansarullah (Yemen). One may add some forces in Iraq. At present, these are the regions were the sharpest fights took place. The impulses and the directives for these forces do not come from Russia nor from China. They come from the Middle East herself.

Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Ansarullah all have their proper strength, experience, autonomy, and leadership. Each one has achieved great successes against mighty enemies. Of course, they collaborate and there is much mutual support. The victories of each are also the victories of all. With the Turkish invasion in Syria, they are confronted with a new task. But Turkey is not as strong as it seems. Politically, the country is divided and Erdogan has not at all the support of the whole people for his invasion. His supporters are merely ultra-nationalists and fascists. Moreover, his aggressive politics in the region (Syria, Iraq, Libya, Cyprus, Greece) has not produced many friends. His politics seem to be utterly adventurous. And militarily speaking, Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran are experimented opponents. I am very confident that Erdogan will suffer a shameful defeat. The Syrian nation and people have already showed that they are able of immense sacrifices, that they are heroic fighters and great patriots.

The reactions on Soleimani’s assassination have changed the Middle East. Erdogan will not be able to stop this movement. His government has chosen the wrong side. The „new“ Middle East is modifying the relations with all other countries. The world should get used to a new Middle East: more autonomous, more self-confident, stronger. Which is very valuable for the whole planet.

Erdogan Says Asked Putin to ‘Step Aside’ to Allow Turkey to Deal With Syria ‘One on One’ – Reports

Sputnik

 29.02.2020

The Russian and Turkish presidents spoke by telephone on Friday amid the escalating tensions in Idlib, where the Syrian Army has been entangled in a shooting war with Turkish troops and Ankara-backed militants in recent weeks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to leave Ankara “face to face” with Syrian authorities in the conflict over Idlib during Friday’s talks.

“I asked Mr. Putin: ‘What’s your business there? If you establish a base, do so but get out of our way and leave us face to face with the regime,” Erdogan said, speaking to reporters in Istanbul, his comments cited by AFP.

Erdogan also warned that the “Syrian regime” would “pay the price” for the deaths of Turkish troops in Idlib, and said that if Russia left Damascus one-on-one with Turkey, “we will do what is necessary.”

Erdogan confirmed that Turkey had opened its borders with the European Union for Syrian refugees, and that some 18,000 migrants had already crossed the border into the EU. According to the Turkish president, Ankara could not “handle a new refugee wave” from Syria. Earlier, Turkish officials told media that Ankara had opened its borders with the European bloc amid the escalating conflict in Idlib.

“We have been saying for a long time that we are not obligated to accept such a number of refugees. You promised us assistance, but are doing nothing, so we opened our borders yesterday. 18,000 refugees have already passed through, and today this number will be 25,000-30,000, and we will not close our doors because the EU must keep its word,” Erdogan said, presumably referring to the March 2016 Turkey-EU migrant deal.

Putin and Erdogan spoke by telephone amid tensions in Idlib, the restive Syrian province where tens of thousands of militants remain concentrated, and where dozens of Syrian and Turkish troops have now been killed amid weeks of clashes.

Also on Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that the recent talks with Turkey had led to the consideration of “concrete steps” aimed at achieving “lasting stability in the Idlib de-escalation zone.”

“Both sides confirmed their goal to reduce tensions on the ground while continuing the fight against terrorists,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, in an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Idlib on Friday, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya emphasized that the Syrian Army had every right to eliminate terrorists in Idlib and anywhere else on its sovereign territory.

“In recent months,  the terrorists who captured Idlib, mainly from [al-Nusra*] had dramatically increased attacks against civilians in neighbouring settlements and the Syrian military. In response to the constant violations of the ceasefire inside the Idlib de-escalation zone, the Syrian Army of course has every right to respond and to squash the terrorists,” Nebenzya said.

The Russian diplomat stressed that Russia could not restrict Syria from fulfilling the requirements on fighting terrorism set out in the Security Council’s own resolutions, especially since Damascus was doing so on its own territory. He added that he hoped that a return to the Astana agreements could help prevent a repetition of the series of events which led to the deaths of Turkish and Syrian troops.

For his part, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari accused Turkey of aggression in Syria, and alleged that Ankara was using its Idlib observation posts to provide support for terrorists. The diplomat stressed that Syria would do everything necessary to protect its citizens and defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Idlib Crisis Deepens

Simmering tensions in the Idlib de-escalation zone were ramped up again on Thursday, when Nusra terrorists initiated a large-scale attack on Syrian Army positions. Syrian troops returned fire, with at least 33 Turkish troops killed in response. On Friday, the Russian millitary said the Turkish forces caught in the crossfire should not have been there in the first place. Turkish media later reported that the Turkish army had destroyed some 130 pieces of Syrian military hardware in recent weeks.

On Friday, Greek media reported that Athens had vetoed a planned NATO statement expressing solidarity with Ankara over the deaths of the Turkish troops. Greece reportedly made the decision despite opposition from the US, the UK, France and Germany.

Russia has repeatedly accused Turkey of proving unable to fulfill several key obligations related to the Idlib de-escalation zone, including the requirement to separate armed militants ready for peace talks with Damascus from jihadists.

The Syrian Army began an offensive in the Idlib de-escalation zone in late 2019 following repeated terrorist attacks on Syrian forces, which claimed the lives of dozens of Syrian troops. Tensions in Idlib escalated dramatically earlier this month after a Syrian artillery strike killed over half-a-dozen Turkish troops at one of the twelve observation posts Turkey has dotting the Syrian province. The attack prompted an escalatory response by Ankara, and threats of a full-blown military campaign.

Along with the tens of thousands of armed rebels and jihadists, Idlib is home to as many as three million civillians, and is the most populous Syrian territory outside Damascus’s control.


* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

Russia, Turkey Intend to Ease Tensions ‘On Ground’ in Syria: Moscow

February 29, 2020

Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow and Ankara have confirmed their commitment to decreasing tensions on the ground in the fight against terrorism in Syria during the last round of consultations in the Turkish capital.

“Both sides confirmed their determination to ease tensions ‘on the ground’ in the process of continuing fighting terrorists, designated as such by the UN Security Council, as well as to defend the civilian population both within and outside the [Idlib] de-escalation zone and provide urgent humanitarian assistance to all who need it,” the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Turkey was unable to fulfil several key commitments to solve the problems around Syria’s Idlib province.

In particular, Ankara failed to separate the armed opposition, which is ready for dialogue with the government in the framework of the political process, from terrorists.

According to the Russian-Turkish memorandum, agreed upon by Presidents Putin and Erdogan in September 2018, the status quo for the presence of the Turkish military was agreed to be maintained, provided that all terrorist radical groups withdrew from the Idlib de-escalation zone by 15 October 2018.

It was also stipulated that “effective measures need to be taken to ensure a stable cessation of hostilities” within the borders of this zone. Clause 7 of the memorandum called for joint Russian-Turkish patrols in the area.

Source: Sputnik

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