DAMASCUS, Syria, Syria's Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moallem, said, the Syrian armed forces are ready around Idlib, if the terror-designated groups refused to pull out of the demilitarised zone. Speaking in a press conference in Damascus, with his Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, al-Moallem warned that, there will be other options, if the terror-designated groups rejected to abide by the demilitarised zone deal in northern Syria. He said, Idlib, like any other Syrian area, will definitely return under government control.
He said, if the demilitarised zone deal, which was reached by Russia and Turkey, last month, is not implemented, Syria will have other options. His remarks came, as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and its umbrella, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham rejected to withdraw from the planned demilitarised zone in northern Syria.
On Sunday evening, the al-Qaeda-linked group said, for the first time, that it will continue to fight the government forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, none of the extremist groups left the demilitarised zone, as they were supposed to evacuate by Oct 15, in accordance with the Russian-Turkish deal to establish a buffer zone in certain areas in northern Syria.
The UK-based watchdog group said, cautious calm prevailed the demilitarised zone on Monday. It added that, the jihadi groups control 70 percent of the demilitarised zone.
The planned demilitarised zone stretches from the north-eastern countryside of Latakia, to the northern countryside of the province of Hama and western countryside of Latakia, as well as, areas in the countryside of Idlib province in north-western Syria.
The Tahrir al-Sham, or Nusra Front, is considered as the most powerful among the rebel groups in Idlib Province, which is the last major rebel stronghold in Syria. In his remarks, Monday, al-Moallem said, the Nusra Front must be rooted out from Idlib, because it's a terrorist group. He said, the government has been prioritising the reconciliation deals to finish the situation in Idlib, out of concern for the lives of civilians in that province, where 3.5 million people live.
He, however, noted that, "we cannot stand indifferent about the current situation in Idlib, if Nusra Front refused to abide by the agreement." While hinting that no military action is imminent, al-Moallem said, "We have to wait, but the Syrian Army is ready in the vicinity of Idlib." The withdrawal of the extremist groups from the buffer zone is the second step of the Russian-Turkish deal, to establish such a zone in northern Syria. The rebels have withdrawn their heavy weapons recently, but the fighters didn't.
Source: NAM N EWS NETWORK