Thu Jan 21, 2016 3:40PM
This image posted on the Twitter page of al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front on April 25, 2015, shows Takfiri militants in the town of Jisr al-Shughour, Idlib province, Syria. ©AP
This image posted on the Twitter page of al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front on April 25, 2015, shows Takfiri militants in the town of Jisr al-Shughour, Idlib province, Syria. ©AP

Russia says Turkey is sending more reinforcements to Takfiri terrorists operating in Syria ahead of peace talks expected to be held later this month in the hope of ending the conflict in the Arab country.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova made the comments during a briefing in Moscow, saying that in recent days especially ahead of the planned start of the inter-Syrian negotiations in the city of Geneva in late January “the activities of terrorist groups have intensified,” Russia Today reported on Thursday.

The internationally-brokered talks are planned to be held on January 25, but the UN says the talks may be delayed.

“Obviously, they’re trying to turn the tide in their favor on the battlefield,” she said, adding that members of the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham terror groups which “got serious reinforcements from Turkey” have been trying to launch attacks on the government forces.

The Takfiri militants operating in the province of Aleppo have been receiving reinforcements and they have also stepped up their activities in the provinces of Homs and Idlib and also suburbs of the capital, Damascus, Zakharova said.

Earlier in January, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in an interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency censured Ankara for offering terrorists safe passage into Syria while underestimating the possibility of the extremists’ return to Turkey.

Ankara is accused of actively training and arming Takfiri elements and buying smuggled oil from territories held by Daesh terrorists.

Elsewhere in her comments, Zakharova expressed concern over Ankara’s increased military incursions into Syria, noting that militant groups might use fortifications built by Turkey along the Syrian-Turkish border as strongholds.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

“While all parties involved pin their hopes on the start of a meaningful and… inclusive dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, external forces continue to help militants in Syria, including terrorist groups, providing them with arms and ammunition,” she stressed.

On December 18, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution supporting an international roadmap for a peace process in Syria. The resolution called for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and the formation of a “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian” government within six months and UN-supervised “free and fair elections” within 18 months.

The Syrian conflict, which started in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or out of its borders.