The Syrian army has every right to defend itself against militant attacks in Idlib and Russia backs such operations, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, in a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Turkey’s Ankara.
In response to a question about Russia’s backing for Syrian government operation in Idlib, Lavrov said that all other de-escalation zones in the country had been declared under the condition that the ceasefires will not include terror groups such as Nusra Front.
Al-Qaeda franchise that would eventually become the Nusra Front, at the start of the Syrian civil war, eventually was the product of a joint initiative with Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch.
According to Bruce Hoffman, visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who studies terrorism and insurgencies, Al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria is far more pernicious than that of Islamic State militant group. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the latest name adopted by Al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, is now the largest rebel group in the country, has extended its control last year over all of Idlib Province along the Syrian-Turkish border
Located in the north-west of Syria, Idlib is the last province outside the government control—excluding the areas under the Kurdish control in North East Syria—the province is controlled by an array of insurgent groups, with Nusra Front as the dominant force there.
Last Thursday, the Syrian army dropped leaflets over Idlib province, urging people to agree to a return of state rule, telling them the seven-year war was nearing its end.
On Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that a four-way Syria summit “is planned in the upcoming future,” with the leaders of Russia, France, Turkey, and Germany attending.