On August 24, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov revealed that the Russian and Turkish foreign and defense ministers will hold a new meeting in the Russian capital of Moscow to discuss the situation in the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib.
“These issues [situation in Idlib] are being discussed between foreign ministries, they are being discussed between our military, intelligence services, the [Turkish] defense minister is now in Moscow. We have not finished this work today, we will have an additional meeting with the participation of all our colleagues,” the Russian news agency Sputnik quoted Lavrov as saying during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Lavrov also noted that the de-escalation zone in northern Syria was not established to alllow membemrs of militant groups to “hide behind peaceful citizens.” At the same time, he stressed that the risks to the civilians of Idlib should be minimized.
From his side, Cavusoglu said that Turkey is equally interested in neutralizing the remaining militants in the northern Syria as they pose a threat to its own national security. However, the Turkish foreign minister said that harming civilians is not acceptable.
“This can provoke a flow of refugees, drama, a human catastrophe,” Cavusoglu said describing the results of a possible military operation in Idlib.
Local observers doubt that Turkey will be able to solve the Idlib issue peacefully as most of the radical groups there, like Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), would never agree to drop their weapons. The failure of the Turkish efforts will likely leave the door open for a military solution led by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies.