Syria says Idlib situation untenable if militants won’t comply with deal

Syrian FM Walid Al-Moualem said it was up to Russia now to judge whether the deal to prevent a Syrian government offensive on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib had been fulfilled. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2018

Syria says Idlib situation untenable if militants won’t comply with deal

  • The deal sets up a demilitarized zone that must be evacuated of all heavy weapons and all militant groups
  • The Syrian government’s next target is the area east of the Euphrates

BEIRUT: Syria’s foreign minister said on Monday the situation in Idlib was untenable if militants do not comply with a Russian-Turkish agreement for the area, on the day of a critical deal deadline.
Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem said it was up to Russia now to judge whether the deal to prevent a Syrian government offensive on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib had been fulfilled.
“We cannot keep quiet about the continuation of the current situation in Idlib if the Nusra Front refuses to comply with this agreement,” Al-Moualem said at a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al-Jaafari in Damascus.
The deal sets up a demilitarized zone running 15-20 km (9-13 miles) deep into rebel territory that must be evacuated of all heavy weapons and all militant groups by Monday.
“Now we must give the time to our friends the Russians to judge whether the agreement was fulfilled or not,” he said, adding that Turkey has the means to ensure the deal is complied with.
“For us we said always Idlib, as any other province, has to return back to Syrian sovereignty. We prefer to have it through peaceful means, through reconciliation, but if not there (are) other options,” Moualem said.

Moualem also said that after recovering Idlib, the government’s next target is the area east of the Euphrates.


Damascus angered by Turkish army convoy heading for key Syria town

Updated 19 August 2019

Damascus angered by Turkish army convoy heading for key Syria town

  • Dozens from both sides have been killed in the latest fighting
  • Syrian and Russian airstrikes aimed at hindering the convoy’s advance through Idlib province

DAMASCUS: Damascus on Monday condemned the deployment of a Turkish military convoy toward a key town in northwestern Syria where regime forces are waging fierce battles with militants and rebels.
“Turkish vehicles loaded with munitions... are heading toward Khan Sheikhun to help the terrorists... which confirms once again the support provided by the Turkish regime to terrorist groups,” a foreign ministry source quoted by the state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, reported Syrian and Russian airstrikes aimed at hindering the convoy’s advance through Idlib province.
The Idlib region is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal signed between government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey in September.
But it was never fully implemented, as militants refused to withdraw from the planned demilitarized zone.
On Sunday pro-regime forces entered Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province for the first time since they lost control of it in 2014.
They are battling to seize a key highway connecting government-held Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, which the regime retook from rebels in December 2016.
Dozens from both sides have been killed in the latest fighting.
Militant group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, controls most of Idlib province as well as parts of the neighboring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.