Russia urges Turkey to act fast in separating opposition groups in Syria’s Idlib

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Turkey should not waste any time in separating the Syrian opposition from what he called terrorist groups in the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib, the Russian TASS news agency said.

Lavrov said Turkey had committed to separate Syrian armed opposition groups in the Idlib de-escalation zone from the al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group as Moscow and Ankara had agreed in Sochi in September last year. The group has been designated a terrorist organisation by Russia, the United States, the UN Security Council, Turkey and several European states.

"Terrorists systematically stage provocations and attack the positions of the Syrian army and communities and also the Russian air base Hmeymim with multiple rocket systems and drones," TASS quoted Lavrov as telling a news conference. “Neither the Syrian army nor Russia will leave such outrages without crushing retaliation.”

When asked about Turkey providing weapons for militants in Idlib, Lavrov said there were large amounts of Western-made weapons available in Idlib, but he did not confirm the origin of these weapons.