US official warns of sitiaution in Idlib
AMMAN – ReutersThe United States warned a takeover of rebel-held northwestern Idlib province by Syrian jihadists linked to a former al-Qaeda affiliate would have grave consequences and make it difficult to dissuade Russia from renewing bombing that recently stopped.
In an online letter posted late on Aug. 2, the top State Department official in charge of Syria policy, Michael Ratney, said the recent offensive by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, spearheaded by former al-Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front, had cemented its grip on the province and put “the future of northern Syria in big danger.”
“The north of Syria witnessed one of its biggest tragedies,” said Ratney who was behind secret talks in Amman with Moscow over the cease-fire in southwest Syria announced by U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July. It was the first such U.S.-Russian effort under the Trump administration to end Syria’s civil war.
“In the event of the hegemony of Nusra Front on Idlib, it would be difficult for the United States to convince the international parties not to take the necessary military measures,” the top State Department diplomat said.
Idlib province, the only Syrian province that is entirely under rebel control, has been a major target of Russian and Syrian aerial strikes that caused hundreds of civilians casualties.