Russia to continue bombing Idlib if needed, says Lavrov

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
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Russia will continue to bomb Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday, despite concerns by the international community over a possible Syrian regime attack on the region.

Lavrov, speaking in Berlin following a meeting with his German counterpart Heiko Maas over the issue, said that Moscow would keep bombing militant targets in opposition-held Idlib if needed, but would also open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee, the Interfax news agency reported.

Lavrov was cited as saying that the Russian air force would strike what he called "terrorist weapons-making facilities" as and when it found out about them, but would also encourage local reconciliation deals.

Ahead of the meeting with Lavrov in Berlin, Maas also made statements on Idlib, telling German press agency dpa on Friday that recent developments in Syria will be one of the main topics of discussion at their meeting.

"We would convey to the Russian side our expectations that there should be no large-scale military offensive on Idlib, that there should be a political process in Syria and guarantees should be given to those people who fled from Syria but would like to return to the country," he said.

Maas underlined that Russia has a key role to play in averting the regime's military offensive on Idlib, which is home to more than 3 million civilians. "It's about avoiding the worst case scenario, namely another humanitarian catastrophe," he said

German FM: We're ready to

contribute to rebuilding of SyriaMaas also said on his Twitter account on Friday that Germany is ready to contribute to rebuilding Syria if a political solution was found for fair elections in the country. "If there's a political solution in Syria that leads to free elections, then we are ready to take on the responsibility of reconstruction," wrote Maas. "It is in our interest for Syria to be a stable country. For that, reconstruction is necessary. And we have an important role in that," he added.

Germany grateful for

Turkey's efforts in Idlib

Before the meeting, Maas voiced support for Turkey's efforts to avert a humanitarian crisis in Idlib, as well. Speaking at a news conference in Berlin on Thursday, Maas said he was "very grateful" for Turkey's cease-fire initiative, and warned that a major military offensive could result in the deaths of thousands of civilians.

"Tomorrow I will have the opportunity to talk to my Russian colleague again," he said and renewed Germany's call on Russia to use its influence on the Syrian regime.

"We should make every effort to prevent a humanitarian disaster in and around Idlib," he stressed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman stressed Wednesday that a cease-fire in Syria could only be possible with Russia's active support. "Russia and Iran, as conflict parties, bear special responsibility," Steffen Seibert told a news conference in Berlin.

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