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Syria's Assad says the next priority is the recapture of Idlib: Russian media



Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Russian media on Thursday that his next priority was the reconquest of Idlib province, which is currently dominated by rebels and jihadists.

"Now Idlib is our destination, but not just Idlib," Assad told the Northwestern province, in comments on Russian news.

"Of course, there are areas in the eastern part of Syria that are controlled by different groups … So we're going to move to all those regions," Assad added. 19659004] "The military – and it's up to them – will prioritize and idlib is one of those priorities," he said.

"Now we have freed Ghouta, we will end the liberation of the Southwest Part of Syria," said Assad.

Syrian government forces launched an offensive with Russian aircraft last month to recapture southern Syria, including Daraa and Quneitra.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have led talks under Astana peace process launched last year d agreed to create four "de-escalation zones" to pave the way for a nationwide ceasefire.

Idlib is part of such a zone. It borders Turkey in the northwest, but otherwise is almost completely surrounded by regimental territory, raising fears that the government will eventually attack it.

Idlib has received many rebels and has evacuated their families from other regions through Russian-mediated "reconciliation agreements". Sawing regime forces are moving in to take rebel-held areas.

According to the United Nations, the population of Idlib today is 2.5 million – half of whom are displaced persons.

In the same interview, Assad said Rescue teams from the White Lands The helmets would be killed if they did not fight themselves.

"Either they can lay down their weapons in a four- or five-year amnesty, or they'll be liquidated like any other terrorist," he said.

On Sunday, Israel helped more than 400 people – oppositional white helmers and their families flee a bag in southwestern Syria as government forces descend upon them. But hundreds more are trapped in the South for fear of reprisals from incoming government forces. Damascus accuses the White Helmets of being a front line for jihadists.

Assad also appealed to Syrian refugees, especially those who had their own businesses in the country to return.

The war has killed more than 350,000 people since the beginning of 2011: brutal crackdown on the protests by the government

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was pictured in June 2018, has told the Russian media that the military is serious will try to retake northwestern and eastern regions


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