On November 29, Russia’s special presidential envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, revealed that more than 15,000 terrorists of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) are currently stationed in the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib and described the situation there as “unacceptable.”
“There are over 15,000 Jabhat al-Nusra [HTS] terrorists in Idlib and this is unacceptable.. We have repeatedly warned the international community against the large number of the terrorists which have chemical materials and they could use them against the civilians,” Lavrentiev said during a press conference following the Astana’s 11th meeting on Syria, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
The Russian diplomat stressed that Russia is ready to provide the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) with all the help it needs to eliminate the remaining terrorists in Idlib and stabilize the situation there. Russia had backed similar efforts in central and southern Syria this year.
“The fight against terrorism in Syria will continue until terrorist organizations are completely eliminated,” Lavrentiev said.
Russia and Turkey reached an agreement to establish a demilitarized zone around Idlib last September. However, has Turkey failed to fulfil most of its commitments and terroorists continue to operate within the zone.
Lavrentiev’s statement indicates that Russia and its allies in Syria may be planning to act militarily in Idlib if the agreement with Turkey collapse. Syrian and Lebanese sources already reported that the SAA is preparing for this option.