Russia’s Air Force has carried out four strikes in Idlib province, Syria’s last jihadist stronghold, after Turkey asked for help in ensuring the safety of its troops in the area, the Defense Ministry said.
The Turkish side provided the coordinates of “terrorists in Idlib” to the Russian military after Turkish troops came under fire from Al-Nusra-linked militants, leaving three servicemen injured.
“As a result, large concentrations of militants and field artillery positions from which the Turkish observation post had been shelled were destroyed,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Both countries are currently working towards implementing a full ceasefire in the jihadist-controlled province. Just two weeks ago, Moscow reported that militants operating in Idlib fired more than a dozen missiles at Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base, all of which were intercepted mid-air.
Idlib and its surroundings in northwestern Syria is the last remaining large pocket of resistance against the Syrian government. Various jihadist groups hold ground there, with the most powerful being the Al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly known as Al-Nusra Front).
Russia has initiated an agreement on the full cessation of hostilities in the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria, the Russian Center for Syrian reconciliation said on Wednesday in a statement.
“At Russia’s initiative and under the Russian and Turkish mediation, an agreement on the full cessation of hostilities across the entire Idllib de-escalation zone starting from the midnight of June 12, 2019 [21:00 GMT on June 11], has been reached, As a result, the number of attacks of illegal armed groups has significantly decreased … The Syrian government troops have not opened retaliatory fire [after two attacks in the province of Hama], respecting the reached agreements,” the statement said.
Russia and Turkey, along with Iran, are guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria. Moscow has also been assisting Damascus by supporting the struggle against terrorist groups, providing humanitarian aid to local residents, and facilitating the return of refugees.