Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Syrian rebels in Idlib trust Turkey, says opposition member

Syrian rebels in Idlib trust Turkey, says opposition member

The largest armed group in Idlib, the al-Qaida-linked affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee, has not said whether it will comply with the deal.

It has been decided that October 15 be the dead line for the removal of the heavy weaponry and the departure of the "hard-liner" factions from the area, agreed upon by Turkey and Russian Federation.

The agreement dictated that heavy weapons, tanks, rocket systems and mortars of all opposition groups would be withdrawn by October 10, and the zone will be monitored by coordinated Turkish and Russian patrols.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday that almost all heavy weapons have been removed from much of the area around Idlib. "Heavy weapons were mostly in back posts in our bases".

"So (HTS), like other factions, is moving heavy weapons and reinforcing its positions according to the agreement".

The syrian foreign minister Walid Mouallem has said to him confident in the ability of Turkey to fulfill its part of the agreement "because of his knowledge of the factions" the insurgent.

HTS, jihadists from the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) and current Al-Qaeda outfit Hurras al-Deen control more than two-thirds of the planned buffer zone.

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Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present, while Russian Federation and Turkey will conduct joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing renewed fighting.

"HTS is playing the long game in Idlib", said Nicholas Heras of the Center for a New American Security.

Russian Federation joined the war in September 2015, backing Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has provided support to the Syrian rebels.

After a series of victories near Damascus and in the south of the country earlier this year, a similar Moscow-backed assault had been expected against Idlib before the Russia-Turkey deal was announced.

Despite progress in implementing the terms of the deal, Assad on Sunday said the arrangement would not become permanent.

"Assad might want to reconquer Idlib, but for now he does not have a better option than this deal", he said.

The Syrian civil war has killed more than 360,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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