Russia’s principled stance is that any a compromise with terrorists in Syria’s Idlib is impossible and that they must be eliminated, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said on Sunday on the sidelines of the discussion on the Syrian settlement at the Munich Security Conference.
According to the high-ranking diplomat, 90% of Idlib’s territory is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra (terror group, outlawed in Russia). “Idlib is a serious problem, this is probably a major concentration of terrorists in the region and maybe beyond its borders,” Vershinin said. “Our principled stance is no to any compromise with terrorists, they must be eliminated.”
Vershinin stressed that this should be done in a way that no civilians are affected and “there should be no damage regarding security concerns, which the Turkish side had voiced.” “Can this be done? Yes,” he said.
On September 17, 2018 in Sochi Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed by October 15 to create a 15-20 km deep demilitarized zone in Idlib along the contact line between the Syrian government forces and the armed opposition. However, Ankara asked to give it extra time and delay the start of joint patrolling in Idlib due to its inability to guarantee security.
Peace with Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorists active in Syria is impossible, Vershinin empasized.
“It’s impossible to say that we can make peace with Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists and similar organizations,” the high-ranking diplomat said.
Vershinin stressed that the Astana trio (Russia, Iran and Turkey), which is continuing its fight against terrorism, will think about the ways in order not to harm or put in danger the civilians. “In this context, we will be committed to full implementation of humanitarian international law,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the February 14 summit of the Astana trio in Sochi that Russia, Iran and Turkey have agreed on to take additional steps to stabilize the situation in Syria’s Idlib. The Russian leader said during the negotiations the three countries’ leaders discussed the ways to implement the Russian-Turkish memorandum on the de-escalation zone in this province.