United Nation, Oct 27 (IANS) Syria’s permanent representative to the UN Bashar Jaafari on Friday threatened that his country will retake Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold and home to a demilitarized buffer zone agreed to by Russia and Turkey.
“Idlib is a dearly held part of my country. We are determined to recover Idlib,” Jaafari told the Security Council.
“We allow for diplomatic and political work. But our right under the UN Charter and international law allows us to fully recover Idlib when we deem necessary,” he said, Xinhua reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to establish a demilitarized zone within Idlib province on Sept. 17 in bid to avert a full-scale assault on the rebel stronghold, which humanitarians feared would have severe consequences for the 3 million civilians living here, many of them displaced people.
The cease-fire in Idlib has so far been maintained. Attempts by the Syrian government to retake Idlib would represent a major change of situation on the ground and would compromise the United Nations’ efforts to break the deadlock on the political process in Syria.
UN Special Envoy for the Syria crisis Staffan de Mistura, who briefed the Security Council at the same meeting, is struggling to set up a constitutional committee, a key step in the political process.
After Jafaari’s statement to the Security Council, British ambassador to the United Natons Karen Pierce requested clarification on the Syrian government’s stance and asked whether the retaking of Idlib would mean the end of the Russian-Turkish agreement on the buffer zone.
Jafaari replied: “It’s not surprising to say on behalf of my government that we will restore sovereignty over Idlib because it’s part of our territory — in a time we deem it appropriate.”
Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia said the retaking of Idlib does not contradict with the Russian-Turkish agreement on Idlib.
“I would like to confirm what was said by the distinguished representative of the Syrian Arab Republic that we are talking about a territory which is part of sovereign Syria,” he said after Jafaari, also in response to Pierce’s request.
“It goes without saying that we believe that ultimately the legitimate Syrian authorities will require control over all of their territory which makes up the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. There is no contradiction with the Russian-Turkish agreement.”