Middle East

Russia welcomes Syria regime's Idlib truce decision

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Russia has welcomed a decision by the Syrian government to agree to a truce in the northwestern region of Idlib.

Moscow's Syria envoy said on Thursday that Russia has welcomed a decision by the Syrian government to agree to a truce in the northwestern region of Idlib.

"Of course, we welcome the Syrian government's decision to introduce a truce," Alexander Lavrentyev was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies after the first day of peace talks in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan.

He said it was now up to jihadists and rebels to honour previous peace agreements.

This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets shows defense workers and civilians carry an injured man after an airstrike hit Ariha, Syria.
This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets shows defense workers and civilians carry an injured man after an airstrike hit Ariha, Syria.
Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets

Idlib is the last major jihadist-run bastion in Syria after eight years of brutal conflict.

Earlier on Thursday, Syria's state news agency SANA reported that the government had agreed to a truce in Idlib on condition a Turkish-Russian buffer-zone deal is implemented.

It cited a military source who announced the regime's "approval for a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone in Idlib starting from tonight" on the condition that jihadists and rebels withdraw forces and weaponry from a buffer zone as per a September accord struck in the Russian resort of Sochi.

Speaking in Nur-Sultan, Mr Lavrentyev expressed doubt that jihadists would honour the truce, adding the number of radical fighters in Idlib was "off the charts".

"And probably they are unlikely to stop some provocations against government forces. But if this happens, we will look at the further development of the situation," he was quoted as saying.

A Syrian man carries an injured girl after an airstrike hit the northern town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria.
A Syrian man carries an injured girl after an airstrike hit the northern town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria.
Syrian Civil Defense White Helme

Idlib and parts of the neighbouring provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia are under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate. 

The region is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but it has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally over the past three months.  

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a crackdown on anti-government protests. 

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