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    Members from a coalition of rebel groups called Jaish al Fateh, also known as Army of Fatah (Conquest Army), man a checkpoint in Idlib city, Syria July 18, 2017. Picture taken July 18, 2017

    New Syrian Flashpoint: Tensions in Idlib Pose a Threat to the 'Entire World'

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    Escalating tensions and clashes between militant groups in the Syrian province of Idlib threaten to introduce a fresh wave of bloodshed to the war-torn Middle Eastern country, a Syrian military analyst told Sputnik, pointing out that the rising violence could spill over into Europe.

    Notable Syrian military analyst Maj. Gen. Muhammed Abbas told Sputnik Arabic that escalating tensions in Idlib Governorate pose a threat, not just to Syria but to the entire world as well.

    He explained that the Syrian army intends to move to liberate Idlib right after freeing Arsal and lifting the siege on Deir ez-Zor. "This is especially important, considering Idlib’s status as a border province," he said.

    Idlib Governorate is currently home to the fundamentalist Islamic militant group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, commonly known by its former name Al Nusra and colloquially in Syria as Hetesh. Other, smaller militant factions also maintain a presence there.

    "There’s a large number of militants in Idlib who, at some point, faced a decision: renounce terrorism and join the ranks of the Syrian army or leave for Idlib without abandoning their [terrorist] allegiance. These people continue to fight against the Syrian army and to kill civilians. By the way, some of these militants fled to Europe back then," Abbas added.

    Another Syrian military analyst, Maj. Gen. Muwafak Jumaa, told Sputnik that "terrorists in Idlib have limited options: surrender, flee or fight against the Syrian army and its allies." He pointed out that the majority of terrorists in Idlib province are not Syrian natives and therefore will either fight or flee.

    According to Jumaa, the fighting for Idlib is expected to be fierce because this border province provides terrorists with access to Turkish sea ports. The Syrian government, however, does not intend to tolerate this situation any longer, he added.

    Meanwhile, Russian, Turkish and Iranian representatives are expected to discuss the issue of reinforcing the de-escalation zones in Syria during a meeting in Tehran scheduled to take place on August 8 and 9, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. On August 6, the minister pointed out that there are currently three such zones established in southern Syria, East Ghouta and to the north of Homs.

    "There’s currently work being conducted on a larger and possibly more complicated zone in Idlib province," Lavrov said.

    In May, the participants of the Astana talks on Syrian settlement agreed on establishing four safe zones in Syria as part of the de-escalation process. The first one, in the north of the country, covers the province of Idlib and neighboring districts of Latakia, Aleppo and Homs. The second is in the north of Homs province. The third is located in the south of Syria, in the Quneitra and Daraa provinces, while the fourth one is in Eastern Ghouta.

    Related:

    Idlib Safe Zone in Syria May Be Next After Homs Thanks to Russia-Egypt Efforts
    Some 50 People Killed in Car Blast in Syrian City of Idlib – Reports
    Tehran to Host Expert Meeting on Astana Syria Talks on August 8-9
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    terrorists, escalation, militants, tensions, Idlib, Syria
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