Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) [the former branch of al-Qaeda] is posing a serious threat to Syria’s stability by its continues attempts to increase its offensive capabilities, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on February 28.
“A threat to security and stability in Syria is coming from terrorists of the Nusra-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which controls almost the entire Idlib de-escalation zone. Field commanders are carrying out events on reshaping allied groups with the goals of increasing their offensive capabilities in the directions of Aleppo, Hama and mountainous Lattakia,” the Russian news agency TASS quoted Zakharova as saying.
Last year, HTS refused to withdraw from the demilitarized zone that was established around Idlib under a Russian-Turkish agreement. The radical group didn’t only violate the agreement, but went on to launch a series of attacks on Turkish-backed groups. This allowed HTS to control 90% of the opposition-held part of northwestern Syria.
Zakharova warned that HTS is now planning to further expand the sphere of its influence and establish full control of Idlib. She also noted that the radical group has increased its violations of the demilitarized zone agreement recently.
“Only over the past four days nearly 40 such cases have been recorded, when people died or were wounded,” she said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also highlighted the importance of a recent report by the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the situation in the demilitarized zone. The report accused HTS of committing atrocities against civilians, including suppressing ethnic and religious minorities and illegal detentions of civilians.
Zakharova’s remarks reflects Russia’s dissatisfaction with the situation in northwestern Syria, which is deteriorating everyday under the eyes of Turkey.
The video belowwas originally released by SouthFront on January 27, 2018:
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