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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Syria expects to free Aleppo in short, tough battle

Iran Press TV

Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:3AM

The Syrian government says its forces will soon take full control of the militant-held areas of Aleppo but predicted a tough battle for the largest city in the Arab country.

'These battles are not easy, but the day will come, God willing, when all Aleppo - its rural areas and the occupied part of the city - will return to state authority,' Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said on Wednesday.

The Syrian army and its allies, backed by Russian warplanes, have recently made major advances against Takfiri militants north of Aleppo.

Zoubi declined to predict how long the campaign would last, but added, 'I do not expect the battle of Aleppo to go on long.'

He said militants were well-financed and armed, naming groups that have received US-made TOW anti-armor missiles, as well as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, and other Takfiri militants such as the Turkistan Islamic Party.

'They have TOWs, they have tanks, they have armored cars, they have bombs, they have many weapons,' Zoubi said.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating in Aleppo, adding that the surge in fighting has displaced about 50,000 people.

The Syrian army has launched major ground offensives against Takfiri militants in the province of Latakia near the Turkish border as well as in Dara'a province bordering Jordan since September 30. The areas have been used by terrorists as major supply routes into Syria.

On Wednesday, the foreign-backed opposition urged its mentors to supply them with anti-aircraft missiles to counter Russian airstrikes that have helped the Syrian army win back several areas across the country.

'If we had these, this would solve the problem of Syria,' opposition spokesman Salim al-Muslat said of the weapons.

He said the opposition would not allow the weapons to fall into the hands of Takfiri militants, who already have access to some of the similar weapons supplied in the past.

'We really guarantee that they do not go anywhere - that they will be in the hands of the moderates under the eye of our friends, whether European or American,' he said.

Saudi Arabia and other regional allies are funding militants and providing them with weapons to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

On Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom was ready to send special forces to Syria if the US-led coalition decided to deploy ground troops.

'We will discuss details with experts from the countries involved to decide on the nature of the participation,' he told reporters during a visit to Morocco.

Syrian Information Minister Zoubi warned against such a move.

'Even thinking about this is a big adventure and gamble, the results of which I don't believe Saudi can bear, neither for its army or its internal situation,' he said.

Saudi Arabia is already a member of the US-led coalition that has been conducting air raids inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Syrian government or a UN mandate.

On Saturday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem strongly warned against a potential troop deployment in the country.

"Let no one think they can attack Syria or violate its sovereignty because I assure you any aggressor will return to their country in a wooden coffin," he said.

Damascus accuses Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar of funding and arming terrorist groups operating inside the country, including Daesh.

The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared up in March 2011, has reportedly killed more than 260,000 people and left over one million injured.

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