Hezbollah leader Nasrallah says group will stay in Syria until further notice
BEIRUT (Reuters) - The leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah, a key Damascus ally, said on Wednesday that his group will keep its military presence in Syria until further notice, commending the Idlib Russian-Turkish agreement as a step towards reaching a political solution in the country. 'We will stay there (in Syria) even after the settlement in Idlib. Our presence there is linked to the need and the consent of the Syrian leadership' Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the powerful Shiite group leader, said in a televised address
BEIRUT (Reuters) - The leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah, a key Damascus ally, said on Wednesday that his group will keep its military presence in Syria until further notice, commending the Idlib Russian-Turkish agreement as a step towards reaching a political solution in the country.
"We will stay there (in Syria) even after the settlement in Idlib. Our presence there is linked to the need and the consent of the Syrian leadership" Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the powerful Shiite group leader, said in a televised address.
Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah has provided vital support to Syria’s military in the seven-year war across the border, helping it regain swathes of the country.
"The quietness of the fronts and less number of threats.. will naturally affect the current numbers (of Hezbollah fighters)," he added.
"No one can force us out of Syria," Nasrallah vowed. "We will stay there until further notice."
Nasrallah commended the outcome of the Iranian, Russian and Turkish diplomacy to spare Idlib a military offensive that could have led to a catastrophic humanitarian situation.
On Monday, Russian and Turkey agreed to exclude the military solution in Idlib in favour of enforcing a new demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib region from which "radical" rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.
"The outcome (of the diplomatic efforts) is good and reasonable but depends on results," Nasrallah said, describing the agreement as a step towards reaching a political solution to the more than seven-year conflict.
Russia, the biggest outside backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his fight against rebels, has been preparing for an offensive on the city of Idlib, which is controlled by rebels and now home to about 3 million people.
The United Nations had warned such an attack would create a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib province, where about 3 million people live.
The Idlib region and adjoining territory north of Aleppo represent the opposition’s last big foothold in Syria. Assad has recovered most of the areas once held by the rebels, with decisive military support from Iran and Russia.
(Reporting by Dahlia Nehme and Laila Bassam; Editing by Alison Williams and Ed Osmond)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.