The Newest: Iran welcomes Russia-Turkey settlement on Idlib

The Latest: Iran welcomes Russia-Turkey agreement on Idlib

September 18, 2018
4:04 AM EDT

Last Updated
September 18, 2018
6:05 AM EDT

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Share this storyThe Latest: Iran welcomes Russia-Turkey agreement on Idlib

MOSCOW — The Latest on the disappearance of a Russian military aircraft over the Mediterranean and other issues related to Syria (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

Iran has welcomed an agreement between Russia and Turkey that averted a Syrian government offensive on the rebel-held province of Idlib.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Diplomacy works.” He added that his visits to Turkey and Russia in recent weeks pursued the deal to avert war in Idlib “with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror.”

Iran and Russia are the main backers of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey backs the opposition. The three countries have been mediating over finding a solution for Syria’s seven-year conflict.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, also welcomed the agreement, adding that “it is an important and essential step for removing the remaining terrorists in Syria.

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12:35 p.m.

Syria’s foreign ministry has welcomed the agreement reached between Russia and Turkey over the northwestern province of Idlib, vowing that Damascus will continue the fight against “terrorists.”

The ministry said in a statement released Tuesday that the Russia-Turkey agreement was the result of “intensive consultations” between Moscow and Damascus.

It said Syria welcomes any initiative that can stop the Syrian bloodshed and contribute to the restoration of security in areas “hit by terror.”

It vowed to continue “war against terrorism until liberating the last inch of the Syrian territory, whether through military operations or through local reconciliations.”

It said that the Idlib agreement is a “time-bound” deal and is part of the previous agreements that were reached to reduce escalation in the areas.

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12:25 p.m.

The Kremlin says it’s deeply concerned over the shooting-down of a Russian military aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea close to Syria.

The Russian reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by the Syrian missile defence over the Mediterranean Sea late on Monday. The missiles were reportedly targeting Israeli jets nearby. All 15 people on board are reported dead. The Russian military blamed Israel for the crash, saying that it “provoked” the strike.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told reporters on Tuesday that the Kremlin is analyzing reports. It stopped short of blaming Israel for the incident, which the military and the defence minister have done.

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12:05 p.m.

Russian state television says Defence Ministry Sergei Shoigu in a phone call to his Israeli counterpart has said Israel is responsible for the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft over Syria.

The Russian military said on Tuesday that the reconnaissance aircraft was brought down by a Syrian missile over the Mediterranean late on Monday, killing all 15 people on board. It said the plane was caught in the crossfire as four Israeli fighters attacked targets in northwestern Syria.

Russian TV quoted a Defence Ministry statement as saying that Shoigu told Avigdor Lieberman that Israel is “fully to blame” for the deaths of the 15 people onboard.

Shoigu said Russia had not been notified of Israel’s operation in the area despite the hotline between the two countries that should be preventing such accidents.

He added that Russia “reserves the right” to respond to Israel’s actions.

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11:45 a.m.

A pro-government Syrian newspaper says the agreement reached between Russia and Turkey over the northwestern rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib envisions three stages in returning Damascus government institutions to the area.

The daily Al-Watan reported on Tuesday that the agreement struck in Sochi the day before also calls for the establishing of a demilitarized zone along all the front line in Idlib by Oct. 15. The rebels are to hand over their heavy weapons under the supervision of Russia and Turkey by Nov. 10.

The paper says the third phase will see government institutions return to the rebel-held region after militants withdraw from residential areas.

The agreement between the leaders of Russia and Turkey on Monday is thought to have averted an all-out offensive by government forces to retake the last remaining rebel stronghold in Idlib.

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11 a.m.

Russia’s Defence Ministry says one of its reconnaissance aircraft with 15 people on board has been brought down by a Syrian surface-to-air missile over the Mediterranean Sea. Rescuers are searching for wreckage but do not expect survivors.

The Russian military said on Tuesday that the plane was hit by accident by one of the missiles, which were aimed at four Israeli fighter jets that were attacking targets in the coastal province of Latakia late on Monday.

Russia said the Israeli aircraft “pushed” the Russian plane into the line of fire. The ministry accused the Israeli army of “intentional provocation” and said Israel did not warn Russia of its operation in the area until one minute before the strike.

Russia has been a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and it has two military bases in the country, including one close to the Mediterranean coast.

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8:15 a.m.

Russia’s military says one of its aircraft with 14 people on board has disappeared over Syria’s Mediterranean Sea coast.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the Il-20 jet went off radar 35 kilometres (22 miles) away from the coast late Monday as it was returning to the Russian base near the city of Lattakia. The military said the plane disappeared as four Israeli fighter jets were attacking targets in the area.

Officials did not immediately say if the plane was shot down.

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