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Russia claims no more moderate rebels in Idlib, all militants aligned with al Nusra

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Oleg Syromolotov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, has claimed all the militants in northern Syria’s Idlib region have sided with al Nusra and that the region no longer hosts forces that could be described as moderate, Sputnik Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

Speaking to a Russian news agency, Syromolotov brought to mind the Sochi Agreement concluded between Russia and Turkey and underlined that according to the agreement Turkey needs to remove rebel groups from the area.

“Yet it is our view that there are no longer opposition groups there. They have all met under the roof of al Nusra, which is equivalent to al-Qaeda,” Syromolotov said.

“Terrorists from a variety of countries are amassed in Idlib, and the whole world is making a fuss in order to maintain the status quo. But it cannot last forever,” he said.

According to the Sochi Agreement, rebel groups should have left the designated buffer zone as of Oct. 15, 2018.

Yet Idlib is still under the control of these groups even though the deadline has passed.

Several Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have underlined that Turkey has done its best to implement the accord and that the task was not an easy one.

On the other hand, messages implying that “Russia will not tolerate a terrorist presence in Idlib forever” have recently become more frequent, Sputnik said.

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