Russia hopes for a peaceful resolution of the situation in Syria's rebel-held province of Idlib but believes it is up to Turkey to separate Islamist militants from the moderate opposition, Russia's Syria envoy said on Tuesday.
"We are saying the situation in Idlib should be settled most preferably in a peaceful way. It is possible to abstain from using military force," Alexander Lavrentiev told reporters after talks in Geneva with U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura.
"Idlib province is...a sort of zone of responsibility of Turkey; it is their responsibility to separate the moderate opposition from the extremists, from Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups, other terrorist groups," he said.
The northwestern province of Syria, described by the United Nations as a "dumping ground" for people evacuated and displaced from other parts of Syria during the seven year war, is the last major holdout of the rebels.
President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to retake it, backed by his Russian and Iranian allies, but the United Nations has warned that an offensive could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe, potentially uprooting 800,000 people.