US ‘dismayed’ at the ‘humiliating defeats’ of terrorists by Syrian army says SANA

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Syrian gunner in action

SYRIA says the US is ‘dismayed’ to see the return of normal life to Aleppo province because of the ‘humiliating defeats’ of the Washington-sponsored terrorists there by pro-Damascus forces.

In a statement carried by the official SANA news agency on Saturday, a source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the US is ‘frustrated’ with the failure of its project in the Arab country which involved spreading chaos and terrorism.

‘It isn’t surprising that the US administration is expressing dismay over the return of normal life in Aleppo and the opening of roads and resuming flights at Aleppo International Airport, as these achievements follow the humiliating defeats of their terrorist pawns at the hands of the Syrian Arab Army which has secured Aleppo city completely,’ he added.

Over the past few days, Syrian army troops have assumed control over most of Aleppo, liberating about 30 villages in just a single day.

They have further managed to completely secure Aleppo city from militant shelling.

For first time since 2012, Syrian troops recaptured the strategic M5 highway that connects the capital, Damascus, to the major cities of Hama, Homs and Aleppo.

A Syrian passenger jet also landed at Aleppo airport from Damascus as domestic flights resumed between the country’s two largest cities.

In a televised address on Monday, President Bashar al-Assad congratulated the Syrian nation and armed forces over major territorial gains in Aleppo, saying the city will ‘return stronger than ever’.

However, Assad warned the liberation of Aleppo does not mean the end of the Syrian army’s campaign against foreign-backed terrorist groups.

The fight to liberate all of Aleppo, along with neighbouring terrorist-controlled Idlib province, will continue he noted, stressing that the Syrian army will not give up until it achieves total victory ‘sooner or later’.

US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus reacted angrily to what he called ‘shameless’ announcements on the advances by Syrian forces against Takfiri elements, claiming: ‘This is no dream of the Syrian people.’

A Syrian Foreign Ministry source said recent US statements show that the administration of President Donald Trump is ‘unbalanced and lacks the most basic forms of communication etiquette.’

He added: ‘The dismay of the US over the failure of its project in Syria is motivation for Syrians to continue confronting terrorists and their supporters until every inch of Syrian soil is free of terrorism and illegitimate foreign presence.’

The US administration’s ‘audacity’ and ‘hypocrisy’ is characterised by its policies of ‘attacking others, interfering in their affairs, and employing terrorists to serve its agendas at the expense of people’s lives and suffering, all while claiming to champion human rights,’ the source said.

On Saturday, the Turkish Defence Ministry said one of its soldiers, a tank mechanic, was killed in Idlib in a bomb attack by Syrian forces.

Turkish forces, it claimed, retaliated and destroyed 21 targets belonging to the Syrian government.

It was reported to be Turkey’s 16th military death in Idlib in the past month.

The latest Syrian gains in Idlib have coincided with a massive deployment of troops and military equipment by Turkey which is evidently upset by changing conditions on the ground.

Ankara has threatened to use military power to drive back the Syrian forces unless they withdraw by the end of February.

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says his country is to join a quadrilateral meeting with Russia, Germany, and France to address the situation in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, where Damascus’ anti-terror advances pose a threat to the Turkish military presence.

‘On March 5th, we will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and we will talk about these again,’ Erdogan was quoted as saying last Saturday, referring to previous discussions with the heads of state concerning Idlib.

The province contains the largest remaining concentrations of Takfiri terrorists, who have fled there since September 2015, when Russia began lending airpower to Syria’s counter-terrorism operations.

Backed by the Russian aerial support, the Syrian military has enhanced its anti-terror efforts in Idlib over the past months.

These advances have liberated many areas across Idlib, including some hosting Turkish ‘observation posts’. Turkey began setting up the facilities in the province in 2018, when it agreed to cooperate with Russia to contain the situation in the vicinity of the Turkish border.

Turkey claims that more than a dozen of its troops have died during clashes with the Syrian forces. It has been sending huge reinforcements to Idlib, has threatened an ‘imminent’ assault on the Syrian military, and asked Russia to ‘stop’ the Syrian gains.

Erdogan has suggested that Ankara does not intend to change its behaviour in the province by saying: ‘I expressed our determination on (Idlib) clearly to Putin yesterday. I also mentioned it to Merkel and Macron.”

Turkey has, on many occasions, been implicated in supporting anti-Syria violence, including by providing safe passage to Syria-headed terrorists, since 2011, when the country fell victim to rampant militancy and terrorism.

Currently, Turkey is widely known to be backing a number of anti-Damascus militant groups in Idlib.

Syria, which has now liberated the biggest part of the territory it had lost after the outbreak, has, however, vowed to bring every inch of its soil back under sovereign control.

Accordingly, Damascus has said it reserves the right to take on any encroachment by either Turkish forces or Ankara’s proxies, and Assad says the liberation of Aleppo does not mean the end of the Syrian army’s campaign against foreign-backed terrorist groups.

Speaking with Putin on the phone on Friday, Erdogan repeated the demand that Moscow should prevent Damascus’ march of liberation in Idlib.

The Russian president, however, told his Turkish counterpart that he was ‘seriously concerned’ by the ‘aggressive actions’ of the Takfiri terrorists in the province.

Separately, the United Nations suggested that the Tal Abyad border crossing between Syria and Turkey could be used to deliver aid to civilians in northeastern Syria following the closure of the al-Yarubiyah crossing between Syrian and Iraq.

‘If viable alternatives to al-Yarubiyah are not found for medical items, the gap between the humanitarian response and humanitarian needs will increase,’ UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in his report to the UN Security Council.

Last month, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia dismissed concerns about closing al-Yarubiyah because he said the situation on the ground has changed and aid is now being delivered to the northeast from within Syria.

‘From a security and logistical perspective, in the current context, the Tal Abyad border crossing would constitute the most feasible alternative,’ he said.

The Turkish military began establishing an aggressive military presence around Tal Abyad in 2016, when it invaded Syria’s northwest ostensibly to push back against the Kurdish militants, whom the Turkish state claims are linked with anti-Ankara separatists.