Middle East

Syrian territory will be liberated from terrorists very soon: Syrian FM

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has stressed the Damascus government’s resolve to rid the entire Arab country of foreign-backed terrorists and retake all Syrian territory.

In an interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network, al-Muallem said the entire Syrian territory will be liberated from terrorists very soon.

“We haven’t attacked anyone…We want to liberate our land and this is a legitimate right for us,” he said.

“Therefore, I say that terrorism will end very soon and the states will last and continue, particularly if the people in these states are steadfast and they have the hope that liberating all of the Syrian territories has become close.”

His remarks came as Syria’s army launched ground operations inside Idlib and parts of adjacent provinces which are under the control of foreign-backed terrorists.

Syria has stepped up its bombardment of militant hideouts in the northwest since late April. Idlib, along the border with Turkey, is the last remaining bastion of foreign-backed terrorists.

Al-Muallem went on to say that Damascus does not want fighting to continue and is not after any conflict with Turkey.

“We don’t seek military confrontation with Turkey, but this is different from confronting the terrorist organizations which are originally blacklisted by the United Nations.”

Al-Muallem, however, complained that the Ankara government didn’t honor its commitment to implement the de-escalation zone agreement in Idlib.

Moscow, a Damascus ally, and Ankara which backs some militant groups in Syria signed an agreement last September to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib that would be evacuated of all heavy weapons and militants.

The agreement put on hold a Syrian government offensive to liberate Idlib, where between 10,000 and 15,000 militants are estimated to be holed up.

Militants, however, have persisted in their stay and refused to leave the area under the deal.

Furthermore, terror outfits have repeatedly violated the truce by launching numerous attacks on outposts held by the Syrian army and Russian forces.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow and Damascus would give a “crushing” response to militants launching attacks in Idlib.

Moscow says it is Turkey’s duty to rein in the armed groups that it supports and help separate them from the Takfiri terror outfits, which form a majority of the militant groups inside Idlib.

Russia and Turkey, along with Iran, are guarantors of a Syria-wide ceasefire. The trio has been mediating a diplomatic process between the Syrian government and armed groups since early 2017.

Idlib remains the only large area in the hands of anti-Damascus militants after government forces managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.

Elsewhere in his remarks, al-Muallem demanded that the Turkish government withdraw its forces and recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria.

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