Russia Calls to 'Liquidate' Militants in Syria's Idlib

The Idlib region is a refuge for millions of civilians and rebels displaced from other areas of Syria as well as powerful jihadist forces

Photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense: White Helmets inspecting damaged buildings after airstrikes hit in the village of Zardana, in Idlib province, Syria. June 8, 2018
/AP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls militants in Syria's Idlib a "festering abscess" which needs to be liquidated in a press conference with his counterpart in Saudi Arabia. 

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.

Lavrov also said on Wednesday that Moscow remained in contact with the United States on the situation in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province.

Russia said earlier on Wednesday it was discussing the situation there and in Syria's Afrin region with Iran and Turkey, as well as the Syrian government and opposition, the RIA news agency reported. 

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NATO confirmed a large scale Russian navy buildup in the Mediterranean Sea off Syria on Tuesday. “The Russian Navy has dispatched substantial naval forces to the Mediterranean, including several ships equipped with modern cruise missiles,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu confirmed to Haaretz in a statement.

Russia is discussing the situation in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province and Afrin region with Iran and Turkey as well as the Syrian government and opposition, the RIA news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on Wednesday.

Russia's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is believed to be considering a full assault on the northern Idlib.