Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif travelled to Damascus for talks with officials and is scheduled to meet Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad and Prime Minister Imad Khamis.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives for a meeting with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho in Tehran, Iran, on August 7, 2018.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives for a meeting with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho in Tehran, Iran, on August 7, 2018. (AP Archive)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif travelled to Damascus on Monday for talks with Syrian regime officials saying militants must be "cleaned out" of Idlib province in northwestern Syria, Fars News reported.

"All of Syrian territory must be preserved and all the sects and groups should start the round of reconstruction as one collective and the displaced should return to their families," Zarif said, according to Fars.

"And the remaining terrorists in the remaining parts of Idlib must be cleaned out and the region should be placed back under the control of the Syrian people." 

Iranian forces have backed Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad in the country’s civil war.

Last week, Iran's defence minister travelled to Damascus and signed an agreement for defence co-operation between the two countries.

More meetings ahead

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Iran, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday, according to Fars News.

"I'm optimistic that this meeting will be successful and productive for the region, the people of Syria and the fight against terrorism," Qassemi said.

Wipe out militants

Fars News said the leaders would meet on Friday.

The meeting comes as Syrian regime forces are preparing a possible phased offensive in the northwestern province of Idlib and surrounding areas, the last big rebel enclave.

"One of the complicated issues today is Idlib which is the last stronghold of anti-government insurgents. The government of Syria is determined to put an end to this catastrophe, Qassemi said, according to Fars News.

"The government of Syria has the right to fight against terrorists in this region. And Iran, as a supporter of the Syrian government, is present and will continue its advisory help as long as the Syrian government wants." 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said on Monday the situation in Idlib could not be tolerated indefinitely, RIA news agency reported.

Speaking to university students in Moscow, Lavrov said the Syrian regime, Russia's ally, had every right to wipe out militants in northern Idlib, Interfax news agency reported.

Source: Reuters