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Turkey must commit to pledges of demilitarized zone in northern Syria: official
BY 2018-10-23 07:41:36

DAMASCUS, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Syria's deputy foreign minister said that Turkey must live up to its commitments to push extremist groups to withdraw from the demilitarized zone in northern Syria, local media reported Monday.

Speaking to the pro-government al-Watan newspaper, Faisal Mekdad said it's the responsibility of Turkey to push the rebels to commit to the demilitarized zone deal that was established between Turkey and Russia in September in Russian resort city of Sochi.

The official said the Syrian government is confident that Turkey can implement its part of the deal because "the terrorist groups take orders from Turkey."

He added that the patience of the Syrian government-- regarding the rebels' failure to fully implement the deal-- has limits.

Mekdad, meanwhile, stressed that the Syrian government will regain control over all Syrian areas such as Idlib and areas on the eastern side of Euphrates River.

Mekdad's remarks come as the extremist groups in the demilitarized zone in northern Syria failed to implement the second part of the deal, which is withdrawing from that zone.

The Russian-Turkish deal to impose a buffer zone between the Syrian army and the rebel groups in northern Syria has been partially implemented in terms of pulling out heavy weapons from the zone.

However, the second stage of the deal is for the ultra-radical rebel groups to withdraw, which did not happen as such groups, mainly al-Qaida-linked groups, have rejected to pull out.

The planned demilitarized zone stretches from the northeastern countryside of Latakia province to the northern countryside of the province of Hama and western countryside of Latakia as well as areas in the countryside of Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, also known as al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, is considered as the most powerful among the rebel groups in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

The deal for imposing a demilitarized zone was reached in September between the leaders of Turkey and Russia, aiming at averting Idlib province from a wide-scale offensive by the Syrian army.

The Syrian government has welcomed the deal but noted that it was only temporary.

Turkey's task in the deal is to persuade the rebel groups in Idlib to abide by the plan as Ankara enjoys sway over the militants there.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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