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Syria says Idlib situation untenable if jihadists wont comply with deal

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By Reuters
Syria says Idlib situation untenable if jihadists wont comply with deal
Deputy Prime Minister for Syrian Arab Republic Walid Al-Moualem addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz   -   Copyright  EDUARDO MUNOZ(Reuters)

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s foreign minister said on Monday the situation in Idlib was untenable if jihadists do not comply with a Russian-Turkish agreement for the area, on the day of a critical deal deadline.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said it was up to Russia now to judge whether the deal to prevent a Syrian government offensive on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib had been fulfilled.

“We cannot keep quiet about the continuation of the current situation in Idlib if the Nusra Front refuses to comply with this agreement,” al-Moualem said at a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Damascus.

The deal sets up a demilitarised zone running 15-20 km (9-13 miles) deep into rebel territory that must be evacuated of all heavy weapons and all jihadist groups by Monday.

“Now we must give the time to our friends the Russians to judge whether the agreement was fulfilled or not,” he said, adding that Turkey has the means to ensure the deal is complied with.

“For us we said always Idlib, as any other province, has to return back to Syrian sovereignty. We prefer to have it through peaceful means, through reconciliation, but if not there (are) other options,” Moualem said.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Additional reporting by Dahlia Nehme, Editing by Toby Chopra and William Maclean)