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    Russia to Support Armed Groups Fighting Nusra Front in Syria's Idlib - Lavrov

    © AFP 2017/ RAMI AL-SAYED
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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia would provide military assistance to groups fighting against the Nusra Front, a terrorist group also known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, in the Syrian province of Idlib, as the US-led coalition has failed to act decisively against the group.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia will be providing assistance to Syrian armed groups that have chosen to fight against the Nusra Front in the Idlib de-escalation zone, Lavrov said Wednesday.

    "We have information that the armed formations which have joined the arrangement on the Idlib de-escalation zone have started to fight more actively against Jabhat al-Nusra. We will be assisting them in this matter, as well as, of course, assisting the Syrian army," Lavrov told reporters after a meeting of Russian special services chiefs in Krasnodar which was televised by RT.

    According to the minister, despite the fact that the US-led coalition has increased its efforts to fight Daesh (ISIS), it remains quite passive regarding the fight against Jabhat Fatah al Sham. The group was established by the former al-Nusra Front before creating Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) earlier this year alongside other terrorist organizations in Idlib province. HTS was promptly declared a terrorist organization by the US and UN before gaining control of Idlib during the summer; Russia still refers to the group by its old moniker. 

    "We have not seen the [US-led] coalition take serious action against Jabhat al-Nusra, which changed its name, but did not change the essence," Lavrov added.

    During a September round of Astana talks, Russia, Iran and Turkey, the three states that serve as guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire, agreed on all four de-escalation zones in Syria. The sides also reached agreement on rules of operation in buffer zones and at checkpoints and observation posts, as well as rules of engagement for units of the de-escalation control force.

    According to the Russian Defense Ministry, to date, the number of armed groups which have vowed to conform to the ceasefire in Syria is standing at 234, while 2,241 cities, towns and villages across Syria have signed the reconciliation agreement.

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    Tags:
    de-escalation, Al-Nusra Front, Sergei Lavrov, Idlib, Syria, United States, Russia
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