Russia rejects Idlib ceasefire as 'capitulating before terrorists'
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. AFP
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday rejected calls for a halt to a Russia-backed Syrian offensive in Idlib in northwest Syria.
"This is capitulating before terrorists and even a reward for their activities in violation of international treaties and numerous UN Security Council resolutions," Lavrov told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Lavrov accused some governments of "a desire to justify outrageous acts committed by radical and terrorist groupings. "Otherwise, it would be difficult to explain admonishments about the possibility of concluding peace agreements with bandits," he said, referring to the situation in Idlib.
A months-long offensive by Russia-backed Syrian troops against rebels backed by Turkey in Idlib has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee the violence.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is planning to hold a summit on March 5 with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany over the escalating conflict. But on Tuesday he said he might instead hold face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on that date, either in Istanbul or in Ankara.
The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross also on Tuesday said in a statement it was "deeply alarmed" by the situation for civilians fleeing the fighting.
"This is the worst wave of displacement we've seen during the Syrian conflict. Amid the harsh winter conditions in Idlib, we see people trapped, isolated and running out of ways to cope. It's completely unacceptable," said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC's director for the Near and Middle East. Carboni called for all sides in the current fighting to "immediately" allow civilians to flee to a safe area.