Syria opposition calls for ‘radical solution’ in Idlib

Islamist rebels from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are seen near ambulances and buses outside the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, Syria July 18, 2018. — Reuters pic
Islamist rebels from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are seen near ambulances and buses outside the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, Syria July 18, 2018. — Reuters pic

BEIRUT, Jan 14 — A leading Syrian opposition body called yesterday for a “radical solution” to overcome a powerful jihadist group which dominates Idlib province, the last rebel bastion in the country.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) sealed its grip on Idlib on Thursday, when it reached a ceasefire deal with what was left of a rival alliance following days of deadly fighting.

Dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, HTS has proclaimed a Salvation Government to administer most of Idlib province and parts of neighbouring provinces of Aleppo and Hama.

Syria’s National Coalition, the leading opposition body, slammed HTS’ attempts to “get its hands on” the whole region.

“It’s necessary to find a radical solution which puts an end to its presence in Idlib and in any other regions,” the coalition said in a statement at the conclusion of a meeting on the latest developments in Syria.

Idlib has been protected by a buffer zone implemented under a Turkish-Russian deal reached in September, to prevent a regime offensive to retake the northern region from rebels.

As part of the deal, jihadists such as HTS were supposed to withdraw from the planned demilitarised area by mid-October but never did.

The HTS takeover revives the threat of a Syrian offensive, prompting the National Coalition to call for an agreement with Turkey to protect civilians.

“And prevent the regime and its supporters, the Russians and the Iranians, to lead a genocide under the pretext of the terrorist presence in the region.” — AFP

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