Russia says Nusra terrorists seek to wreck buffer zone deal in Syria’s Idlib
Russia says Takfiri terrorists in Syria’s Idlib province are striving to wreck a Russian-Turkish initiative to establish a demilitarized zone in the flashpoint militant-held region.
“There are still Nusra terrorists in Idlib who are not stopping their attempts to wreck the implementation of the memorandum that was agreed between Russia and Turkey,” Interfax news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying during a news briefing in the capital Moscow on Thursday.
Some 60 percent of the northwestern province, home to three million people, is said to be controlled by members of the so-called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Takfiri 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.
Zakharova added that terrorists were continuing to shell Syrian government troops in the south of the province and to the northwest of Hama province.
Under the deal, which was forged in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi in September following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, all armed opposition groups in the demilitarized zone, which surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 10, and Takfiri groups had to withdraw by October 15.
The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
Russia, which has been carrying out anti-terror airstrikes in Syria since 2015, says a buffer zone would help stop attacks from Idlib-based militants on Syrian army positions and Russia’s military bases in the flashpoint region.
Last month, Russia said that almost 88,000 foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists had been killed in the Syria ever since Moscow launched its counter-terrorism airstrikes against militant redoubts in the Arab country.
Separately, a US-led military coalition has also been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.