President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has described the defeat of the Takfiri terrorists holed up in Idlib as the key to ending the eight-year war gripping the country as he visited frontline troops deployed in the northwestern province.
Assad made the remarks in a meeting with Syrian army personnel on the frontlines of al-Habit town, on Idlib’s southern edges, on Tuesday.
‘We have always said and we still say that the battle for Idlib is basic for ending chaos and terrorism in all the Syrian areas,’ he said during his first visit to the embattled region since 2011.
Idlib remains the only large area still in the hands of anti-Damascus militants after the Syrian military – backed by Iran and Russia – managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.
In January, the UN estimated that there were 20,000 terrorists in Idlib associated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a coalition of al-Qaeda-inspired terror outfits.
Over the past few days, Syrian troops have been deployed to parts of the country’s north to support the Kurds in the face of a Turkish military offensive, which was launched on October 9th after the US abruptly abandoned its longtime Kurdish allies and withdrew its forces from Syria’s north.
Turkey views the Kurds as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The developments prompted the Kurds to reach out to the Damascus government for support, striking an agreement with Syrian troops to enter towns near the border with Turkey.
Lashing out at Ankara, Assad described Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a ‘robber,’ who has robbed Syrian ‘factories, wheat and oil,’ and is now ‘robbing the land.
‘When we face an aggression or robbery, we should stand by each other … but some Syrians haven’t done that, particularly over the first years of the war … We told them not to bet on abroad, but on the army, the people and the homeland,’ he said, referring to the Kurds who had put their trust in the US and relied on its support.
President Assad said Syria will respond to Turkish aggression anywhere in the war-battered country by all legitimate means available.
The Syrian president further said that Syria’s first measure in the face of the Turkish offensive was ‘to communicate with different political and military forces on the ground, and we said that we are ready to support any group that would resist, and it isn’t a political decision, but a constitutional and national duty, and if we don’t do that, we don’t deserve the homeland.’
In the wake of Turkey’s Syria offensive earlier this month, Assad said the Damascus government would respond through all legitimate means available in the country’s northern areas.
The Iraqi military says US forces that have crossed into Iraq as part of a pullout from Syria do not have permission to stay on Iraqi soil and can only be there if they are later transported out of the country.
‘All US forces that withdrew from Syria received approval to enter the Kurdistan Region so that they may be transported outside Iraq. There is no permission granted for these forces to stay inside Iraq,’ the military said in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement contradicted an announcement by Pentagon chief, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper last Saturday that all of the nearly 1,000 troops withdrawing from northern Syria would be stationed in western Iraq to allegedly continue the campaign against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and ‘to help defend Iraq’.
However, a senior US defence official later clarified that the situation was ‘still fluid’ and plans could change.
Various news agencies reported on Monday that US troops had crossed into Iraq from Syria through the Sahela border crossing in the northern province of Dohuk.
Russia says its military police units are patrolling along the line of contact between Turkish and Syrian armies near Manbij to prevent conflict.
Russian forces also moved in to replace American troops in northern Syria in support of the country’s army.
And US military forces have reportedly transferred more than 1,500 female members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from Syria to neighbouring Iraq in the wake of a ground offensive by Turkish troops and their allied Takfiri militants against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that the US troops have moved the Daesh women from al-Hol refugee camp, which lies in Syria’s northeastern province of al-Hasakah and close to the Syria-Iraq border, to Iraq.
The report came only a few days after SANA reported that US forces had transferred 230 foreign Daesh terrorists from al-Malikiyah prison to a detention centre in al-Shaddadi town in southern Hasakah.
Since October 9th, SANA said, US forces have transported hundreds of Daesh extremists and their relatives from Syrian territories to Iraq in six batches.
The date is when Turkey and its allied militants launched a ground offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.
The American forces have recently transported the terrorists to an unknown location.
According to the report, American forces have also turned their illegal base in Shaddadi, Hasakah into a place of accommodation for Daesh terrorists and their families, who are being brought from al-Hol camp and prisons across Syria to the base in order to be transported on board military helicopters to Iraq.
US forces have been airlifting Daesh terrorists from one place in Syria to another, under the cover of darkness, in order to save them from the rapidly advancing Syrian government forces, and cover up their alliance with the Takfiri extremists.
Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched the long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeast Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
The Kurdish-led administration there says the Turkish offensive has killed 218 civilians, including 18 children, since its outset. The fighting has also wounded more than 650.
Turkish authorities say 20 people have been killed in Turkey by bombardment from Syria, including eight people who died in a mortar attack on the town of Nusaybin by YPG militants on October 11.
- US President Donald Trump has said his plans to bring American troops home from Syria and other countries have been met with strong opposition from ‘military companies,’ arguing that it is easier for him to let the soldiers get killed and sent back in coffins instead.
Trump said on Monday that ending American military presence overseas was one of his two key campaign pledges – besides building a wall – and that he was intent on fulfilling that promise despite opposition in Washington.
‘We’re bringing our troops back home,’ he told a cabinet meeting at the White House.
‘I got elected on bringing our soldiers back home. Now, it’s not very popular within the beltway because, you know, Lockheed doesn’t like it. And these great military companies don’t like it. It’s not very popular.’
Trump said bringing back the troops was what his supporters asked him when he appeared before a large crowd of 25,000 during a campaign rally in Dallas last Thursday.
‘When I said we’re bringing our soldiers back home, the place went crazy,’ Trump said.
‘But within the beltway, you know, people don’t like it. It’s much tougher for me. Be much easier for me to let our soldiers be there, let them continue to die.’