By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - Russia on Friday called for efforts for the implementation of agreements between Ankara and Moscow on Idlib, northwestern Syria.
“If military officers, diplomats and representatives of the security services make efforts, the agreements can be translated into the language of practical actions,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.
Lavrov said Russian and Turkish presidents spoke over the phone and confirmed their commitment to the Sochi agreement.
"We reaffirm our full commitment to the agreements that were reached between the presidents of Russia and the Republic of Turkey on what should be done in the Idlib de-escalation zone: to separate the normal opposition from the terrorists, to demilitarize the line in this zone, and to ensure the unhindered use of highways that passed through this zone," he said.
Commenting on the latest Syrian regime attack that martyred 33 Turkish soldiers, Lavrov argued that the Turkish side did not inform the Russian side about the presence of military personnel in the area where the attack took place, a claim Turkey denies.
“But as soon as the Russian military got to know about the incident, it requested the regime forces to stop the offensive to provide a safe evacuation” of the wounded and martyred Turkish soldiers, he claimed.
Earlier in the day, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the location of Turkish troops was known by Russia.
“This attack occurred even though the locations of our troops had been coordinated with Russian officials in the field,” Akar told reporters in Turkey’s southern Hatay province.
The Turkish soldiers are in Idlib to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.
Lavrov also offered condolences to the families of Turkish soldiers who lost their lives in the attack.
"We offer our condolences and, I repeat, we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of the Turkish military personnel who are providing the de-escalation regime in the Idlib zone and our military on the ground are ready to continue this work," he said.
Lavrov said the Russian and Turkish negotiators have agreed to continue talks on Idlib.
Since Turkey and Russia reached a deal on Idlib in 2018 under which acts of aggression are supposed to be prohibited there, over 1,300 civilians have been killed in the de-escalation zone.
Idlib is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.
More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks.
Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the world’s top refugee hosting country.