Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Erdogan Celebrates Turkey-Russia Demilitarized Zone Deal in Syria’s Idlib

Erdogan Celebrates Turkey-Russia Demilitarized Zone Deal in Syria’s Idlib Erdogan Celebrates Turkey-Russia Demilitarized Zone Deal in Syria’s Idlib
Melinda Barton | 22 September, 2018, 21:37

Following a meeting in the Russian city of Sochi between Turkish President Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two leaders agreed Monday to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib, Syria's last opposition stronghold that is also home to al-Qaeda's branch in the country.

An Il-20 surveillance plane with 15 people on board was mistakenly downed by a Syrian missile on Monday, when Israel was conducting an airstrike on Syria's Latakia province at the same time.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets were targeting a Syrian military facility involved in providing weapons for Iran's proxy Hezbollah militia and had warned the Russians.

Earlier, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a letter of condolences to Putin over the deaths of Russian servicemen, saying the incident can not undermine the resolve of Moscow and Damascus to fight the terrorists.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the Israeli warning came less than a minute before the strike, leaving the Russian aircraft in the line of fire.

Netanyahu, who has maintained warm personal ties with Putin and frequently travelled to Russian Federation for Syria-focused talks, noted the need for Russian Federation and Israel to continue co-ordinating their action in Syria.

"We view the actions of the Israeli military as hostile", Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state television.

For now, Amidror said, the key to maintaining Israel's ability to strike inside Syria is convincing Russian Federation that the incident wasn't Israel's fault.

While the downing of a Russian plane and the death of 15 Russian military personnel sparked a lot of anger, Putin seemed willing to absolve Israel, at least for now. Russian media said the plane disappeared during "an attack by Israeli F-16s" and claimed to have "registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate".

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday he agrees with Putin that this was "a tragic mistake", but laid the blame on Syria.

Israel has long accused Iran of using Syria as a conduit to funnel weapons to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group and political faction with whom Israel went to war in 2006.

Nasrallah says Israel knows the regional balance of power has changed, and that recent Israeli strikes in Syria to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring those weapons failed because this "has already been achieved".

On September 17, Syrian air defenses shot down a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance plane over the Mediterranean Sea. President Putin explained that Turkey shot down the Jet but Israel didn't and a chain of tragic events took place that led to the downing. The IDF has worked closely with Russian Federation to ensure that Israel can maintain freedom to maneuver in Syria, focused on diminishing the substantial Iranian support for Hezbollah and defending the Jewish State as necessary.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of soldiers to fight alongside the Syrian government forces since the 2011 eruption of the civil war.

Russian Federation added that Israel, which according to its own admission conducted hundreds of air raids in Syrian over the past year or so, didn't warn Russian Federation of any operation in the region.