The Kremlin on Wednesday accused Turkey of flouting agreements it had made with Russia to neutralize militants in the Syrian province of Idlib and said militant attacks on Syrian and Russian forces in the region were continuing.
The Kremlin made its comments after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his country’s military would strike Russian-backed Syrian forces by air or ground anywhere in Syria if another Turkish soldier was hurt as the Assad government tried to regain control of Idlib province.
Violence has flared in Idlib, in northwest Syria and bordering Turkey, in recent weeks as government forces backed by Russia and Iran have made gains in their campaign to eliminate the last insurgent bastion in Syria’s nine-year-old war.
Turkey, which is allied with some rebel groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, mounted a counter-attack on Tuesday after 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian shelling in Idlib in the last 10 days.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Moscow remained committed to a deal on Syria it had struck with Ankara, but that Russia considered militant attacks in Idlib to be unacceptable and in contravention of that same agreement.
Russia, a close ally of the Syrian government, hashed out a deal with Turkey in 2018 to create a de-militarized zone in Idlib, but those agreements and others between the two countries have come under strain amid mounting tensions in the region.
“In particular, according to this document (the agreement), the Turkish side undertook to ensure that terrorist groups in Idlib were neutralized,” said Peskov.
“We continue to note with regret that these groups are carrying out strikes from Idlib on Syrian forces and also taking aggressive action against our military facilities,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
“This is “unacceptable and runs contrary to the Sochi agreements.”