1 Aug 2018 09:23

Syrian army needed in 3 areas of militants' presence - Lavrentyev

SOCHI. Aug 1 (Interfax) - The Syrian army is needed in at least three areas of militants' presence, and the Russian military is considering options of deterring the threat posed by ISIL (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) in the vicinity of at-Tanf, Russian Presidential Representative for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev told Interfax.

"In fact, there are still three areas in Syria requiring dedicated effort to be taken by the government forces [towards neutralizing militants]," Lavrentyev said.

These are Idlib, where fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) are present, the Rukban camp in the at-Tanf area, and Kurdish-held areas near the Syrian-Iraqi border, he said.

"Idlib mostly sees the presence of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists, while ISIL fighters are gone. There are two areas where the presence of this organization continues, namely at-Tanf or, to be more precise, the Rukban camp where over 60,000 Syrian refugees are staying. About 1,500 ISIL radicals are using these Syrian refugees as a shield," he said.

"The militants constitute a major threat not just to Syria's southern areas of as-Suwayda, Daraa and al-Quneitra but also to such populated localities as Damascus, Palmyra, and Deir ez-Zor. Something needs to be done, and I believe the Russian military is considering options to solve this problem," Lavrentyev said.

"A large group, although it has reduced by now, remains near the Syrian-Iraqi border on lands controlled by the Kurdish militia," he said.

"About 1,000 militants are present there and give a great deal of trouble to both the Kurds and the government forces by regularly crossing the Euphrates River and attacking government garrisons," Lavrentyev said.