Syrian MP asks Iran to help end sieges of Foua and Kefraya

Locals in Foua & Kefraya protest to demand participants in Astana talks include their towns in any concluded agreement, 21 January.

Syrian lawmaker, Hussein Raqib al-Hussein, has asked Iran to help end the siege of two Shi’ite villages, Foua and Kefraya, in northwestern Idlib province.

The Syrian government legislator made the remarks to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, in Tehran on Sunday.

According to Fars News, al-Hussein said the situation in the villages – with a total population of 20,000 – was dire and in need of serious attention from the UN and international organisations.

“I urge Iran to make its best efforts to break the siege and send humanitarian aid to the villages,” the MP is reported as saying.

“The case with Foua and Kefraya is being pursued by the Islamic Republic of Iran as a priority in political consultations related to the crisis in Syria,” said Jaberi Ansari.

Although under government control, the villages have been besieged for two years by rebel groups, most recently by the extremist Islamist Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.

Government troops were forced to retreat from the area in March 2015 after a series of suicide bombings, shelling and kidnappings, left the two towns surrounded by mostly Islamist forces.

Last week (21 February) government airstrikes killed at least six people and wounded 21 in Idlib’s Maaret Misreen, after rebels fired on the two towns.

Several hundred wounded people were evacuated from Foua and Kefraya as part of a deal parallel to the evacuation of civilians and militants in eastern Aleppo in December last year.

Iran has been a staunch supporter of the Bashar al-Assad government, which it sees as a strategic regional ally and crucial to its interests. Iran has provided logistical, military and diplomatic support to the Damascus government.