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
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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.


Pompeo calls Hezbollah risk to Middle East stability

Updated 12 min 22 sec ago
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Pompeo calls Hezbollah risk to Middle East stability

  • Pompeo, who has been on a regional tour to promote the Trump administration’s hard tack against Iran

JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Hezbollah on Wednesday as a risk to Middle East stability and conferred with Israel about the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Lebanese group ahead of a trip to Beirut.

Pompeo, who has been on a regional tour to promote the Trump administration’s hard tack against Iran, received a warning from Israel which worries it may again be in the sights of Hezbollah forces winding down their intervention in Syria’s war.

Meeting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, Pompeo listed Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas and Yemen’s Houthis — all recipients of Iranian support — as “entities that present risks to Middle East stability and to Israel.”

“They are determined to wipe this country off the face of the planet and we have a moral obligation and a political one to prevent that from happening. You should know that the United States is prepared to do that,” Pompeo said in public remarks at the meeting.

For its part, Israel has carried out repeated airstrikes on Hezbollah in Syria, where the Shiite militia — along with Russian air power — helped President Bashar Assad turn the tables against rebels and militants.

In a speech broadcast on the Persian new year on Thursday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic had successfully resisted “unprecedented, strong” US sanctions.

Iran has faced economic hardship since US President Donald Trump withdrew last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed sanctions.

Pompeo’s visit to Jerusalem was widely seen in Israel as a boost for Netanyahu, who enjoys a close relationship with Trump, just three weeks before closely contested Israeli election.

In a further signal of solidarity with Israel, Pompeo was later scheduled, accompanied by Netanyahu, to visit Judaism’s Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

In May 2017, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the wall, but did not ask Netanyahu to join him.
Seven months later, Trump broke with decades of U.S. policy and recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, incensing Palestinians who claim the city's eastern sector as the capital of a future state they seek.
Last May, Washington moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Pompeo also visited the embassy on Thursday.