Sunday, January 19, 2020
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Assad Calls Demilitarized Zone for Idlib a ‘Temporary Measure’

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is calling the demilitarized zone deal for Idlib province, reached between Russia and Turkey, a "temporary measure."

According to state-run Syrian media, Assad told a Baath Party meeting Sunday that last month's agreement was aimed at "stemming the bloodshed."

But Assad did not rule out any military strike in the future, saying Syria's goal is to restore government control over the entire country.

He called Western opposition to what had appeared to be planning for an imminent attack on Idlib "hysterical."

Idlib province in northern Syria borders Turkey and is the last major area of Syria still in rebel hands.

Syrian forces were massed along the border ready for what looked like an inevitable military operation against the rebels before Russia, which support Syria, and Turkey, which generally supports rebel forces, agreed to set up a buffer zone.

A spokesman for a rebel coalition said Sunday said rebel forces have started pulling back their heavy weapons but will remain in defensive positions in case of what he calls an emergency.

Observers said a Syrian strike on Idlib would endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians and lead to a bloody humanitarian disaster.

Source: Voice of America