United Nations gives cautious backing to Turkey-Russia deal on Idlib

Arturo Kim
September 19, 2018

The Syrian air force had simultaneously been responding to Israeli fighter jets that were mounting air attacks on targets in the coastal region of Latakia.

Russian Federation is also likely to provide enhanced assistance to the Syrian air defense system - either through additional equipment transfers or greater intelligence sharing and guidance - to make it more effective against Israeli attacks.

"The Syrian anti-air batteries fired indiscriminately and from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air", the statement said. Putin acknowledged on Tuesday the accidental nature of the plane's downing and said it didn't compare to the 2015 incident when Turkey shot down a Russian jet in combat.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday Moscow was "extremely concerned" about the downing of the aircraft, but declined to comment on further steps the Russian government might take in response or on any potential impact on relations between Russia and Israel. Netanyahu frequently travels to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin to discuss the Syria issue.Sima Shine, a former senior Mossad official and ex-deputy director-general at the Strategic Affairs Ministry, told Israel's Army Radio station that the shooting down is problematic both militarily and internally from a Russian perspective.

The US officials speaking to CNN confirmed that it was Israel who carried out the missile strikes, and identified the target as "a facility that Iran was using to house sensitive military equipment that could be assembled into weapons, and then transferred to Lebanese Hezbollah".

"The United States expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members of the Russian plane that was downed by Syrian regime anti-aircraft fire", Pompeo said in a statement.

Spokesman Colonel Patrik Steiger told AFP the frigate Auvergne "did not fire anything last night".

Earlier this month, Putin publicly rebuffed a proposal from Erdogan for a truce when the two met along with Iran's president at a summit in Tehran.

Israeli F-16s are practiced in knocking over Syrian air defences but remain a generation behind US-made stealth jets in radar-evading technology.

According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, at least 7,928 civilians and 10,069 combatants have been killed in Russian strikes.

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Under the agreement, rebels must vacate the 9- to 12-mile buffer zone along the border of the Idlib region.

The incident occurred on the same day that Russian Federation announced a joint agreement with Turkey to create a demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib province, which neighbors Latakia, potentially thwarting a large-scale military operation and impending humanitarian disaster in the country's last rebel stronghold.

That would be implemented by October 15 and would entail a withdrawal of all militant fighters from the area.

"The demilitarized zone will be monitored by mobile patrol groups of Turkish units and units of Russian military police".

By the end of the year, transport routes between the key port of Latakia and Aleppo as well as Latakia and the major city of Hama must be restored, he added.

Foreign powers involved in the protracted conflict - including Israel and Russian Federation - operate hotlines to exchange operational details to avoid one side accidentally attacking the other's forces.

The European Union said the agreement must protect civilians and allow aid access.

"The decision that came out was just a partial one".

"In my opinion, this agreement will not put a stop to the shelling".

The UN had warned a fully-fledged ground assault could spark the worst humanitarian catastrophe yet in a conflict that has killed more than 360,000 people.

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