Syria Warns They’ll Fight Jihadists If They Reject Idlib Deal

Foreign Ministry says up to Russia to judge if deal is being implemented

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem commented on the Idlib deal on Monday, saying that the government remains willing to fight jihadist rebels if they reject the deal, and that it is up to Russia, one of the deal’s brokers, to judge if it’s being implemented.

The various Idlib factions have all offered at best tepid support for the deal, mostly endorsing the idea of there not being an offensive, but each of them rejecting the idea of withdrawing from the new demilitarized zone, or backing heavy weapons out of the area.

Turkey announced the entire plan was fully implemented last week. Some factions had issued statements openly rejecting the deal if it involved them giving up territory, but the nebulous nature of the new zone, and the exact locations controlled by each faction has allowed Turkey to mostly ignore this in reports.

Under the deal, Turkish and Russian forces are intended to police the demilitarized zone for compliance. How long this will last is unclear, as Syria’s end-game goal is to still recover control of what is effectively the last rebel-held part of the country.

Russian officials seem hopeful, saying that while they don’t believe all the rebels are in compliance yet, the deadline is flexible and that they are more important with getting the demilitarized zone established than doing so at a specific date.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.