NUR-SULTAN, August 2. /TASS/. Syrian government troops won’t be withdrawn from the line of contact in Idlib under a ceasefire agreement, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said in an interview with TASS.
According to him, it is almost impossible to withdraw government forces from the line of contact because the area controlled by radical groups is rather vast.
"This is why as soon as government troops are withdrawn, radical groups may be expected to seize new areas. We have seen it happen before," the Russian envoy pointed out. "We can’t allow it to happen again. Syrian government forces will certainly remain there," he added.
"A ceasefire is another thing," Lavrentyev went on to say. "I would like to point out that Syria’s statement says that the ceasefire will be respected only if a demilitarized zone is created and all radical groups leave it. So we will see how the situation unfolds to figure out if the withdrawal of radical units is possible, and there are a lot of them," he noted.
The Syrian TV said earlier that the government had agreed to declare a ceasefire in Idlib provided that all agreements made in Sochi were implemented, which meant that militants should move 20 kilometers away from the demilitarized zone and heavy artillery should be withdrawn.
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at their Sochi meeting on September 17, 2018, agreed to create a 15-20 kilometers wide demilitarized zone along the line of contact in the Idlib province. However, terrorist units are still active in the area.
The Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan hosted the 13th international high-level meeting on Syria the on August 1-2. The event involved representatives of the guarantor countries (Russia, Iran and Turkey), the Syrian government and the opposition. High-ranking officials from the United Nations and Jordan were present at the meeting as observers. Besides, Lebanon and Iraq for the first time participated in the Nur-Sultan talks as observers.