New rebel group joins de-escalation zone deal near Damascus

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-19 01:11:26|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

DAMASCUS, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Faylaq al-Rahman, or Al-Rahman Legion, a rebel group long fighting in the eastern Ghouta countryside near Damascus, joined Friday the de-escalation zone deal.

In a short statement, Faylaq al-Rahman said it had signed the de-escalation zone deal in Ayn Tarma and Jobar areas in eastern Ghouta region.

The group said it had signed the deal with the Russian side following negotiations.

It noted that it will reveal the content of the agreement next Monday.

The Russian Defense Ministry was also cited by local media as stating that the Russian side signed the de-escalation deal with Faylaq al-Rahman, noting that the group pledged not to target Russian diplomatic mission in Damascus.

"We were able to attract all moderate opposition militants in the de-escalation zone in eastern Ghouta," the ministry said.

Signing the deal comes as the Syrian army launched a wide-scale offensive on the group's positions in Ayn Tarma and Jobar, after the de-escalation zone deal was reached in eastern Ghouta last month.

In July, the Russians and the opposition rebels in eastern Damascus signed the de-escalation zone deal under the mediation of Cairo.

At the time, Jaish al-Islam, or the Islam Army, signed the deal, but Faylaq al-Rahman, which is said to have ties with the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, refused.

Upon the refusal of Faylaq al-Rahman, the army heavily pounded the group's positions in eastern Ghouta.

On top of that, Jaish al-Islam also fought against this group, which is said to be backed by Qatar.

Still, reports suggest that there is still a presence of al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, or Levant Liberation Committee, the new name the Nusra has taken after claiming it had cut ties with al-Qaida, in eastern Ghouta.

Jaish al-Islam previously urged Faylaq al-Rahman to cut ties with Nusra and merge with Jaish al-Islam ranks.

It's not clear yet how the situation will unfold in eastern Ghouta after the group agreed to join the deal, but it will surely put an end to the heavy shelling and clashes between the army and Faylaq al-Rahman in that part of the capital.