Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says government forces have turned their focus on Idlib, noting that liberation of the northwestern province is one of the military’s priorities.
“Now Idlib is our goal,” Assad told Russian media outlets on Thursday.
The province holds the largest concentrations of Takfiri terrorists, who have fled there from ongoing liberation operations by the country and its allies, including Russia.
The Syrian head of state, however, asserted that the operations will not be just focusing on Idlib. “The military — and it is at their discretion — will decide priorities and Idlib is one of these priorities,” he said.
“There are of course territories in the eastern part of Syria that are controlled by various groups… So we will be moving into all these regions,” he said.
“Now we have liberated Ghouta, we will finish the liberation of the southwestern part of Syria,” Assad said.
Ghouta, a suburb of the capital Damascus, was cleansed of terrorist presence back in March after months of operations.
Last month, the country began counter-terrorism operations at its southern tip, which comprises the provinces of Dara’a, Quneitra, and Sweida.
On Saturday, members of a Western-backed “aid group,” which is accused by Damascus and Moscow of working with Takfiri militants and staging false flag gas attacks in Syria, were evacuated to an Israeli military base as the army was closing in on Quneitra.
The operation began after a call by the United States, and expression of readiness by its allies Britain, Germany, and Canada to take the evacuees in.
Hundreds of the so-called White Helmets are still reportedly present on the Syrian soil.
The Syrian chief executive equaled the White Helmets’ members with terrorists, saying they did not deserve any better treatment than terrorists unless they surrendered.
“Either they can lay down their arms as part of an amnesty ongoing for four or five years, or they will be liquidated like any other terrorist,” he said.
Assad finally appealed for Syrian refugees, especially those who had their own businesses in the country, to return.
The Syrian president has called “rebuilding” a priority, now that the country is slowly emerging from seven years of foreign-backed militancy and terrorism.