MOSCOW – A senior Russian official warned the U.S. on Saturday against making any “reckless” moves in Syria, the RIA news agency reported.
Reacting to comments by National Security Adviser John Bolton about Washington’s possible strong reaction in the event of a chemical or biological attack in the Syrian region of Idlib, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: “We warn the Americans and their allies against taking new reckless steps in Syria.”
“We are hearing ultimatums from Washington … and it does not affect our determination to continue our policy for the total elimination of terrorist epicenters in Syria and the return of this country to a normal life,” RIA quoted Ryabkov as saying.
The Idlib region, a refuge for civilians and rebels displaced from other areas of Syria as well as powerful jihadist forces, was hit by a wave of air strikes and shelling this month, in a possible prelude to a full-scale government offensive.
Russia earlier this week presented proposals to the Turkish authorities on resolving the situation in Idlib, a northwestern Syrian region that borders Turkey.
Turkey has backed some rebel groups in region and set up a dozen military observation posts. It is trying to avert an attack by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Moscow.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem is set to visit Moscow at the end of the month.
Turkey’s Erdogan says will bring safety and peace to Syria, Iraq
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Sunday to bring peace and safety to Iraq and areas in Syria not under Turkish control and said terrorist organizations in those areas would be eliminated.
Turkey, which has backed some rebel groups in Syria, has been working with Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and Iran for a political resolution to the crisis.
It has so far carried out two cross-border operations along its border with Syria and set up a dozen military observations posts in the northern Syrian region of Idlib.
The rebel-held Idlib enclave is a refuge for civilians and rebels displaced from other areas of Syria as well as for powerful jihadist forces, but has been hit by a wave of air strikes and shelling this month.
The attacks posed a possible prelude to a full-scale Syrian government offensive, which Turkey has said would be disastrous.
Iran’s defense minister meets Assad, Syrian counterpart in Damascus
Meanwhile, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami arrived in Syria on Sunday for meetings with President Bashar al-Assad and senior defense and military officials as part of a two-day visit, according to the Tasnim news agency.
Iranian forces have backed Assad in the country’s civil war.
“Not only the people of the region, but the people of the world are indebted to the battles that have taken place against terrorists in Syria,” Hatami told Assad in a meeting, according to Tasnim.
Hatami also told Assad that he was hopeful that all of Syria would soon be “liberated” and displaced Syrians could return home.
“Relations between the two countries are strong and stable,” Assad said in the meeting, according to Tasnim.