Idlib militant groups violated the ceasefire regime in the Greater Idlib area in October, the Russian Foreign Ministry says.
A full comment by the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Mariya Zakharova on the situation in Syria during the November 1 press briefing (source):
The Constitutional Committee was launched in Geneva on October 30. It was preceded by a meeting of the three Astana guarantor countries at the level of foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey. We consider the creation and launch of the Constitutional Committee, with decisive support from the Astana format, an absolute achievement, primarily of the Syrian people. Yet we are aware that the convocation of the committee is unlikely to result in a sweeping resolution to existing problems. However, it will make it possible for the Syrian sides – the government and the opposition as well as civic society representatives – to sit down at the negotiating table for the first time in the years of the crisis to determine the future of their country, which is particularly important amid remaining tensions in Syria.
Regarding the situation “on the ground,” the most complicated developments are on the territories outside Syrian government control on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, in the Idlib de-escalation zone and in the US-occupied area around Al Tanf.
The situation in the northeast of Syria was taken under control thanks to the signing of the Russia-Turkey Memorandum in Sochi on October 22. Under the agreements, Russian military police, together with the Turks, began patrolling the 10-kilometer security zone along the Syrian-Turkish border. Syrian government troops were deployed in some designated sections of the border. Also, the Syrian Democratic Forces and Kurdish self-defence groups with heavy weapons were withdrawn to 30 kilometres from the border.
Meanwhile, Washington’s illegal and unlawful actions give rise to many questions. We offer regular updates on the situation. Now I would like to say that the current international community cannot help but ask questions when a civilised nation, that incessantly claims its allegiance to democratic values and international law in international relations, starts pumping oil from the deposits in the northeast of Syria (this is, after all, a sovereign state), while using the pretext of fighting ISIS to cover up its criminal activities. Let me remind you that ISIS, according to the allies, was totally crushed back in March. The US’ position doesn’t hold water. In violation of their own sanctions, the Americans are smuggling oil from Syria valued at over $30 million a month, and are set to stay there for the foreseeable future.
Militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone continue shelling government troops. In October, there were around 600 such attacks. The region has long become a hotbed of international terrorism. Russia remains committed to the September 17, 2018 Sochi Memorandum, however, this cannot be used as a pretext to protect terrorists who have been recognised as such by the UN Security Council. In this context we have a sharply negative view of the attempts made by some Western nations to whitewash the Hayat Tahrir Al Sham alliance in Idlib, which is on the terrorist lists of the UNSC and most countries, and present it as armed opposition, either moderate or extreme. Such approaches are unacceptable since they run contrary to the common goals and principles of international counter-terror cooperation.
The overall situation in Syria is normalising despite the difficulties “on the ground.” The country is gradually returning to a peaceful life, no matter how much the opposite is wanted by some. We realise that that there are still followers of the idea that things in Syria should be different from what is going on now. On October 26-29, Damascus hosted Syria Petro international energy exhibition attended by oil and gas companies from Russia, Belarus, Kuwait, China, Egypt and the UAE. A number of bilateral documents, respective agreements and contracts were signed following the event.
I would like to stress again in this connection the importance of comprehensive humanitarian assistance for Syria without discrimination, politicisation and pre-conditions. We consider the restoration of social infrastructure to be a priority which has special significance in the context of maintaining the process of a voluntary, safe and dignified return of the Syrians to their permanent places of residence. Over 450,000 refugees and over 1.3 million internally displaced persons have already returned to their places of residence since July 2018.