Syrian army starts observing ceasefire in Idlib de-escalation zone
Iran Press TV
Sat Aug 31, 2019 01:29PM
Syrian government forces have started implementing a unilateral ceasefire in the de-escalation zone of Syria's embattled northwestern province of Idlib, which is the last major stronghold of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the crisis-plagued Arab country.
Syria's official news agency SANA, citing an unnamed military source, reported that the ceasefire went into effect on Saturday morning, noting that the Syrian army reserves the right to respond to any violation by the Takfiri terrorists.
The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria had earlier announced the ceasefire in a statement released on Friday.
An agreement was reached on "a unilateral ceasefire by Syrian government forces in the Idlib de-escalation zone from 6:00 a.m. (0300 GMT) on August 31," the center stated.
The statement said the ceasefire aimed "to stabilize the situation" in Idlib, urging foreign-sponsored Takfiri militant groups in the region to "abandon armed provocations and join the peace process."
The announcement came after an unnamed Syrian military source said government forces had gained control over 10 villages located east of the already liberated town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
Russia's Sputnik news agency quoted the source as saying that the villages of Khwein al-Kabir and al-Saqiyat, al-Tamana'ah town as well as Tal Saqiyat, Tal Turki, Tal Seyed Ali, Tal Sayyed Jaafar in addition to the western and eastern outskirts of Tamana'ah were purged of Takfiri terrorists by the morning of August 30.
On August 5, the Syrian army declared in a statement the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey 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," SANA cited a statement released by the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces.
"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, referring to the Russian city where the truce deal was agreed upon.
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.
Under the Sochi agreement, all militants in the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib and also parts of the 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, 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, has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
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