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Merkel Agrees With Putin on Need to Fight Militants in Idlib – Reports

© Sputnik / Alexey Vitvitsky / German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel - Sputnik International
The Syrian authorities earlier announced the beginning of a large-scale operation to liberate the province of Idlib, the last remaining terrorist stronghold in the country

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed support for Russia’s actions in Syria, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten reported.

READ MORE: It's Time for Ankara to Lend a Hand to Assad – Turkish Politician

Commenting on the ongoing war in Syria and the looming operation in Idlib, Merkel told RTL that it was necessary to “make attempts” to fight radical forces, “but at the same time to protect civilians, which will be a very big, important task.”

Smoke rises from a base controlled by rebel fighters from the Ahrar al-Sham Movement, that was targeted by what activists said were Russian airstrikes at Hass ancient cemeteries in the southern countryside of Idlib, Syria October 1, 2015. - Sputnik International
US Representative for Syria Says Possible Idlib Offensive Would Be 'Reckless'
The chancellor further revealed that she had discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and  also stressing the need to “avoid a humanitarian catastrophe” in the war-torn country.

According to Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, the counterterrorism operation has been complicated by the fact that militants are using civilians as human shields, and have shifted the battle to inhabited areas.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that Washington also shared Moscow’s concerns over the presence of terrorist groups in Idlib.

"Many of the people who fled these other de-escalation zones fled to this location [Idlib]. There’s no place for these people to go, and the Russians have the narrative that there are terrorists in Idlib. That is a true statement. We share their concern about terrorism emanating from northern, northwest Syria. We absolutely agree with them there are terrorists in those locations and they need to be taken care of such that they don’t export terror around the world," Pompeo said late Tuesday.

Merkel’s statements somewhat echoed Pompeo’s earlier remarks when he suggested that the US hoped to resolve the tense situation diplomatically.

"It is not the way to do that [fight terrorism] to put the lives of all these innocent civilians at risk and create a humanitarian crisis and I think that’s what you saw the president [Donald Trump] saying last night was we’re happy to work on the terrorism issue in this place… We are hoping that this can be resolved diplomatically," Pompeo said.

Idlib, which was designated as one of Syria's de-escalation zones, remains the last hotbed of terrorists in the country. The situation in the province has further deteriorated with Moscow and Damascus saying that militants are plotting a false-flag chemical attack against civilians in the area to blame it on the Syrian government and thus prompt a new round of Western airstrikes against the country.

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