Al-Nusra occupies 70 percent of Idlib: Russian FM
The al-Nusra Front, a former affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, now occupies 70 percent of Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Jan. 18 during a press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Moscow.
“It also worries us that in Idlib, contrary to the agreements on creating the demilitarized zone there, Jabhat al-Nusra dominates and violates the demilitarized zone. About 70 percent of this territory is already occupied by terrorists; they are trying to attack the Syrian army’s positions, settlements and they are trying to threaten our military air base in Hmeymim,” Lavrov said.
According to Lavrov, this is “one of the acute problems, because it is infinitely impossible to maintain this last major hotbed of terrorism in Syria.”
Lavrov said on Jan. 16 there was progress in resolving Syria’s seven-year conflict and that the focus should remain on Idlib.
The Syrian government’s ally Russia, and Turkey, which backs Syrian rebels, agreed in September of last year to create a demilitarized zone around the last rebel-held enclave of Idlib.