Syrian troops to start military op in Idlib after militants fail to honor truce
Iran Press TV
Mon Aug 5, 2019 03:21PM
The Syrian military says government forces are going to launch an offensive against foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the country's northwestern province of Idlib, after Takfiris positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.
"Even though the Syrian Arab Army declared a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone of Idlib on August 1, armed terrorist groups, backed by Turkey, refused to abide by the ceasefire and launched many attacks on civilians in surrounding areas," Syria's official news agency SANA cited a statement released by the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces on Monday.
"The Turkish regime's persistence in allowing its terrorist pawns in Idlib to carry out attacks proves that Ankara is maintaining its destructive approach and is ignoring its commitments as per the Sochi agreement. This has emboldened terrorists to fortify their positions, and led to the spread of the threat of terrorism across the Syrian territory," the statement added.
It further noted, "Despite the Syrian army's agreement to conditional truce in Idlib and efforts exerted in this regard, Ankara has failed to fulfill its obligations. The Syrian Arab Army will, therefore, resume its combat operations against terrorist groups regardless of their nomenclature and it will retaliate in accordance with its constitutional duty of protecting the Syrian people."
The Syrian military's statement came a day after Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would launch a military operation in a Kurdish-controlled area in northern Syria.
Erdogan said on Sunday that both Russia and the United States have been told of the planned operation, but did not say when it would begin.
SANA, citing an unnamed military source, announced on August 1 the Syrian government's "approval for a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone in Idlib starting from tonight" on condition that terrorists and militant groups withdraw forces and weaponry from a buffer zone as per a deal reached following a meeting between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on September 17, 2018.
Under the agreement, all militants in the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17 last year, and Takfiri groups had to withdraw two days earlier.
The National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant alliance in Idlib region, but the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, holds a large part of the province and the zone.
The HTS, which is said to be in control of some 60 percent of Idlib Province, has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 members of different factions of armed groups, which Syria, Russia and Turkey consider terrorists, are active in the volatile province, which is home to around three million inhabitants.
The announcement of the conditional truce came as representatives of guarantor states in Syria peace process – Turkey, Russia, and Iran – and delegates from the United Nations held a two-day meeting in the Kazakh capital city of Nur-Sultan last week.
Representatives of some armed Syrian opposition groups also confirmed their participation in the talks.
Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief of the HTS terrorist group has said his fellow militants will not withdraw from the de-militarized zone in Idlib as planned in recent Syrian talks.
Syria's pro-government al-Watan newspaper, quoting Ahmed Hussein al-Shar'a, better known by the nom de guerre Abu Mohammad al-Julani, as saying, reported on Monday that the group refused to withdraw 20 kilometers in depth of Idlib province.
Julani said he will not take heed of the request, no matter whether "friends or enemies" might have made it.
By saying friends, Julani meant Turkey, which is backing and negotiating on behalf of Takfiri militant groups, al-Watan noted.
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