DAMASCUS (Dispatches) -- The Syrian government has called on what is left of Daesh and other terrorist groups in the country to surrender as the war against foreign-backed militancy in the country is "nearing an end.”
Syrian armed forces carried out shelling attacks against terrorist positions in the Idlib province on Thursday as they dropped leaflets that warned them to lay down arms and accept the government’s rule.
"The war is nearing an end... We are calling on you to join the local reconciliations, as many of our people in Syria did," read the leaflets, which were stamped with the military's seal.
"Your cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army will release you from the rule of militants and terrorists, and will preserve you and your families' lives," declared the leaflets.
After purging terrorists from most parts of the country and achieving several game-changing victories, the government of President Bashar al-Assad has been trying to negotiate evacuation deals with terrorists to save civilian lives.
The agreements grant amnesty to anti-Assad militants who are willing to live under state rule again, provided private lawsuits are not filed against them.
Damascus has been keen on scoring a similar deal with Idlib, which sits on the border with Turkey and is one of the last major militant strongholds in Syria.
Assad announced last month that government forces had turned their focus to Idlib, noting that the liberation of the northwestern province was one of the military’s priorities.
Iran, Russia and Turkey, the guarantors of a countrywide ceasefire in Syria, have ensured the United Nations that they will try their utmost to prevent a battle for recapturing the city, which is home to over 2.5 million people.
UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland, however, said that the world body was making preparations for a battle and would ask Turkey to keep its borders open to allow civilians to flee if the need arose.
Speaking to International Syria Support Group's Humanitarian Access Task Force in Geneva on Thursday, Egeland echoed the Syrian government’s view that the anti-terror battle in Syria was in its final stage.
"We are seeing the beginning of the end to the Syrian war," Egeland told the activist group, calling on Western governments and Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf region to use their influence on militant groups and urge them to stop violence against civilians.
The Syrian conflict, which started in March 2011, has so far killed over 350,000 people, according to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The UN reported on Sunday that the war had cost the country more than a whopping $388 billion.
Released after a two-day meeting of Syrian and international experts in neighboring Lebanon, the figure did not include "human losses resulting from deaths or the loss of human competences and skilled labor due to displacement, which were considered the most important enablers of the Syrian economy."
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek, who was in Damascus to secure the release of two men working for a German humanitarian group, met with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem on Thursday.
"The Syrian side demonstrated that this is a good will gesture from their side," Hamacek said in a joint press conference with German Ambassador Christoph Israng.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Army announced Thursday that it had advanced more than 50 kilometers into Daesh-held areas in the southern governorate of Sweida over the past three days.