“Idlib Province is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11,” United States envoy says

Syria’s foreign minister said government forces will “go all the way” in the rebel-held northern region of Idlib and that Damascus’s main targets were al-Nusra militants, Reuters reports.

With Syria’s rebels nearing defeat after seven years at war, President Bashar al-Assad’s army says it is turning its firepower against their final stronghold. The target, Idlib province, is largely controlled by an al-Qaeda-linked militant group.

Idlib Province is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11,” Brett H. McGurk, the United States envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, said “Idlib now is a huge problem.”

Almost three million people live in Idlib where, according a UN estimate, there are around 10,000 al-Nusra and al-Qaeda jihadist fighters.

Using unusually urgent language, the United Nations’ Syria envoy, Staffan di Mistura, warned Thursday that the people of Idlib province are facing the prospect of a “perfect storm.”

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