About 9000 terrorists of Jabhat al-Nusra group seek to take control of Syria’s Idlib province to disrupt the creation of a de-escalation zone there, the head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Department Igor Korobov said at the roundtable of the Army-2017 military and technical forum.
"Now terrorists are seeking to take control of its entire territory, stepping up combat actions against formations of moderate opposition," Korobov said, noting that the al-Nusra terrorists have managed to deal a heavy blow to the Ahrar al-Sham group and occupy a dominant position.
The head of the General Staff’s Main Department didn't rule out that by doing this, leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra try to prevent the creation of a de-escalation zone in this part of Syria and therefore undermine the process of peaceful settlement of the conflict, TASS reported.
Korobov also said that the number of terrorists operating in the Jabhat al-Nusra is Syria is more than 15,000 militants. The group is controlling most part of the Idlib Governorate. Besides, its forces are being active in the Homs Governorate, the suburb of Eastern Ghouta, in southern Syria and near the administrative centers of the Quneitra and Daraa Governorates.
A military observer of the TASS news agency, retired Colonel Viktor Litovkin, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the Jabhat al-Nusra group's victory is unlikely in this region. "I think that the militants will not succeed, because the Syrian army with the support of the Russian Air Forces and the US-led coalition are very successful now. Jabhat al-Nusra is unlikely to achieve its goals, especially since our army helps Damascus with intelligence, air strikes, advisers who fight in the ranks of the Syrian government troops, and with its experience as a whole," he stressed.
"I think Syria will not lose Idlib as part of its territory as a result of this terrorist attack. In order to ensure the successful peace process in Syria, it is necessary to clear whole Syria from terrorists. It is understandable that small disparate terrorist groups will remain there, but this does not mean that they will influence the public life of the country," Viktor Litovkin added.
Head of the Department of Political Science of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Gevorg Mirzayan, in turn, explained the attack as a matter of the group's survival. "Of course, they are trying to seize the territory, but not in order to prevent the creation of a de-escalation zone, but in order to control more territories. More territories mean more money, more income, more influence, which makes it possible to achieve more profitable negotiating positions in future," he noted.
According to Gevorg Mirzayan, there are several ways to repel this attack. "First, Turkey's invasion to Idlib, and second, the transfer of pro-Turkish forces from northern Syria, but it requires the corridor to Idlib, which would not be allowed by the US. Third, the agreement of Ankara, Moscow, Tehran and Damascus about a joint strike on the Jabhat al-Nusra group with the subsequent division of the province. Such talks are already under way," the political scientist stressed.
At the same time he drew attention to the fact that even the complete capture of Idlib would not stop the peace process in Syria. "The loss of Idlib would be a loss for Turkey in the first place, because Turkey is responsible for this zone of de-escalation. The main thing for Assad now is to prevent attacks from Idlib on the territories controlled by Damascus, so that he can fight against ISIS. In fact, Idlib under the Jabhat al-Nusra group's control would be even beneficial for Assad, because this group dos not negotiate. If Idlib is seized by militants, Assad will start a military operation and get Idlib without any concessions," Gevorg Mirzayan concluded.