Russian forces launch attacks on Turkish-backed rebels in Afrin, as Syrian army continues advancing on Deraa
The airstrikes on pro-Turkish militias by Moscow comes mere days before President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
By News Desk - September 26 2021

Afriin city. (Photo credit: AFP)

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) entered the towns of Saham al-Jolan, Hayt, Jallin, Al-Mazirah and Ashari in Deraa governorate on 26 September after rebel fighters agreed to lay down their arms and regularize their condition to re-enter Syrian society.

Earlier this month, the Syrian government achieved a significant victory in Deraa governorate after rebel fighters holed up in Deraa al-Balad agreed to a Russian-brokered truce which allowed thousands of citizens to return to their homes in the formerly besieged neighborhood.

This latest achievement by the Syrian government comes on the same day that Russian forces launched a rare attack on Turkish-backed rebel positions in the northern town of Afrin, which has been under the control of Ankara since 2018.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the airstrikes killed at least seven pro-Turkey fighters.

On 25 September, Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with his Turkish counterpart during the week to discuss Ankara’s commitment to the fight against terrorists in Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone.

“We are in consultations with our Turkish partners who made a special agreement with us two years ago, committing to the fight against terrorists in the Idlib de-escalation zone and efforts to separate them from armed groups that are not terrorist, and to cooperate with Turkish troops,” Lavrov noted.

The Russian diplomat went on to say: “The presidents of Russia and Turkey will hold another meeting in a few days where the implementation of these commitments will be thoroughly discussed. Clearly, the pace of implementation has been slow.”

Lavrov also criticized attempts by western powers to deliver alleged humanitarian aid to Syria, saying that Moscow will refuse to support the cross-border aid delivery mechanism unless it goes through Damascus first.

“If no specific measures are taken to unblock aid deliveries through Damascus in accordance with international humanitarian law, then we will shut down cross-border activities that are not transparent,” Lavrov said.

He also called on Washington to lift restrictions on military contacts with the Kremlin, saying such a move would help promote the deconfliction mechanism in Syria.

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