Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is in Damascus on Monday to discuss plans for an upcoming summit on the future of Syria. This comes amid an anticipated offensive against the last major rebel territory in Syria.
Zarif met with top Syrian officials, and followed this up with a statement to the Iranian press backing an offensive against Idlib, saying that the rebel territory needed to be recovered “and the remaining terrorists in the remaining parts of Idlib must be cleaned out.”
Zarif’s comments echo Russia’s support for the offensive against the rebels. UN officials estimate 70,000 rebel fighters in Idlib, with 10,000 of them UN-designated terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda. The US has warned Syria against attacking.
But with Syria having relatively effectively recovered all the other major rebel holdings in the country, Syria has treated Idlib as only a matter of time, believing they will either reclaim the territory through negotiations, or militarily. With no sign the negotiations have made any progress, it is believed the Assad government is getting close to just deciding on a military option.