Turkey-backed rebels poised to enter Syria's Idlib

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-18 05:47:46|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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DAMASCUS, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) will enter Syria's northwestern province of Idlib by the end of September along with Turkish forces, activists said on Sunday.

Activists cited a commander of the Ninth Unite of the FSA known as Abu Jalal as saying that 3,000 FSA fighters are preparing to enter Idlib and the countryside of Aleppo province in northern Syria with the Turkish army.

"Entering Idlib will take place in full cooperation with the Turkish army and we expect all rebel factions in Idlib to join us against the Levant Liberation Committee (LLC)," the commander was cited as saying.

He said the LLC fighters are floundering against the backdrop of the attempts to end its presence, following the recent fractions in the group's ranks.

The LLC is an umbrella comprising several rebel groups, mainly the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

But the group has started feeling the pinch with the new de-escalation zones' deal that was recently reached between Iran, Turkey and Russia, as the deal executed the Nusra as a terrorist group, while entice other rebel factions to break up with the LLC.

Russia, Turkey, and Iran, which held a new round of peace talks on Syria Thursday and Friday in Astana, decided the creation of de-escalation zone in Syria's Idlib and nearby areas as part of the tripartite plan to curb the violence in major hotspots in Syria.

In a joint statement, the three powers said they agreed "to allocate" their forces to patrol the zone covering the opposition-held Idlib and parts of the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

It said that the zones will be formed for a six-month period and could be extended if necessary.

The three powers agreed to send a total of 500 observers to monitor the deal implementation in Idlib, but the Russians will be sending military police.

However, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that the Syrian government rejects any Turkish presence in Syria as "illegitimate."

The de-escalation zones' deal in the northern province of Idlib is "temporary aiming to restore life to the international road between Damascus-Hama, and Aleppo to alleviate the suffering of the citizens," according to the statement.

The ministry said the deal doesn't grant any legitimacy to any Turkish presence on the Syrian ground, and the Turkish presence is illegitimate.

"There is no concession whatsoever to the unity and independence of Syrian territory and we will never stop fighting terrorism, whatever its tools and supporters," the ministry said.

The deal is the latest in a series of de-escalation zones deal reached between major powers in recent months.

A separate deal was reached between U.S. and Russia in southern Syrian cities of Deraa and Quneitra, and Russian military police were deployed in the area to monitor the cease-fire which started on July 9.

The Russian Defense Ministry also declared a cease-fire deal in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, as well as in Homs, however, the deal was only reached with an opposition group that has limited dominance in the opposition-held areas in Homs.