14 Aug 2018 14:53

Lavrov blames Jabhat al-Nusra for difficulties in Syria's Idlib de-escalation area

ANKARA. Aug 14 (Interfax) - The situation in the Idlib region is more complicated than in Syria's other de-escalation areas, in part because of the activities of the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra (banned in Russia), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"The situation there, in Idlib, is more difficult than in the other [de-escalation] areas. It was more complicated there from the very beginning, in part because of Jabhat al-Nusra's dominance," Lavrov said at a press briefing after talks with the Turkish foreign minister in Ankara on Tuesday.

Estimates, including those provided by the United Nations, put the number of Jabhat al-Nusra militants present in the Idlib area at several tens of thousands, he said.

"As Turkey continues deploying its observation posts in the Idlib area, the situation there is becoming quieter," he said.

"Recently, we have been witnessing quite aggressive actions, primarily staged by Jabhat al-Nusra, including attacks on Syrian forces' positions, dispatching large quantities of drones on a daily basis in order to attack the Russian Hmeimim Airbase, and a large number of other provocative acts," Lavrov said.

"The Syrian army has the full right to suppress such manifestations. The question as to whether Russia would allow the Syrian army to do so is irrelevant," he said.

"The Syrian army is on its own territory, it is fighting for independence and against terrorists, in strict compliance with [UN Security Council] Resolution 2254, and we support such operations of the Syrian army in strict compliance with international law," Lavrov said.