Russia had suspended joint patrols with Turkey on the M4 highway in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib, Maria Zakharova, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, revealed on August 14.
Zakharova told reporters that the decision to suspend the joint patrols was taken due to the continued provocations by the remaining militants in Greater Idlib.
“Terrorists have increased the number of attacks on government positions and nearby settlements and are not halting provocations in the security corridor along the M4 highway. In this regard, joint patrols on the highway have been temporarily suspended,” the TASS news agency quoted Zakharova as saying.
The spokesman added that the repeated drone attacks on Russia’s Hmeimim Air Base were of a “particular concern” for Moscow. The attacks are launched from Greater Idlib.
“Achieving a lasting stabilization in the Idlib de-escalation zone is possible only if the terrorists are neutralized,” Zakharova.
Russia and Turkey agreed to implement a ceasefire in Greater Idlib and secure the M4 on March 5. The agreement put an end to a dangerous military confrontation.
The joint Russian-Turkish patrols on the M4 faced several challenges, most notable was the July 14 suicide attack. Three Russian service members were injured in the attack. Despite some delays, two successful patrols were conducted on July 22 and August 12.
The suspension of joint patrols indicates that Greater Idlib is heading towards a new escalation. According to recent reports, that militants are plotting a new attack on Syrian government forces in southern Idlib. Moscow is apparently aware of these hostile plans.