13 Sep 2018 16:24

Syrian militants plan offensive on Aleppo, Hama - Russian Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW. Sept 13 (Interfax) - Militants in Syria's Idlib are preparing an offensive on the cities of Aleppo and Hama, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

"Militants are actively working on centralizing their command, preparing for long-term defense, they are eliminating the leaders of opposition formations inclined to cease fire, and they are also considering ways of offensive actions in the direction of the cities of Aleppo and Hama," Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday.

Zakharova said, citing available information, that "several hundreds of ISIL militants (terrorist organization banned in Russia) have recently arrived in the city of Jisr ash-Shugur an joined the group Huras al-Din there."

Russian monitors from the center for reconciliation of opposing sides speak of a considerable increase in the intensity of attacks on nearby populated areas located on the territory controlled by the Syrian government by militants from the Idlib de-escalation zone," she said.

"A total of 289 ceasefire breaches by illegal armed groups were registered in the Idlib de-escalation on September 1-10, which is almost three times more than was registered in the same periods in the previous months," Zakharova said.

Zakharova also said she has information that, despite the disclosure of the plans of militants and the White helmets who present themselves as 'humanitarian people" to stage the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government forces, "preparations for the staging continue in the Idlib zone."

Militants conducted so-called "peaceful protests" against a large-scale offensive of the Syrian army that is allegedly being prepared in various cities in the Idlib zone last Friday.