A leading Syrian opposition body called Sunday for a “radical solution” to defeat a jihadist group that dominates Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold in the country.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) tightened its grip on Idlib on Thursday, when it reached a ceasefire agreement with the remnants of a rival alliance following days of deadly fighting.
Dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, HTS has proclaimed a Salvation Government to administer most of Idlib province and parts of the neighboring provinces of Aleppo and Hama.
Syria’s National Coalition, the leading opposition body, slammed HTS’s efforts to “get its hands on” the whole region.
“It’s necessary to find a radical solution which puts an end to its presence in Idlib and in any other regions,” the coalition said in a statement at the end of a meeting on the latest developments in Syria.
Idlib has been protected by a buffer zone implemented under a Turkish-Russian deal signed in September to prevent a government offensive to recapture the northern region from the insurgents.
As part of the deal, jihadists such as HTS were supposed to withdraw from the planned demilitarized area by mid-October but failed to do so.
The HTS takeover revives the threat of a Syrian offensive, prompting the National Coalition to call for a deal with Turkey to protect civilians.
– with reporting by Agence France-Presse