Jihadist group in Idlib rejects agreement between Ankara and Moscow

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Syrians chant slogans as they wave flags of the opposition and of Turkey during a demonstration against the Syrian government in the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan in the north of Idlib province on September 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / OMAR HAJ KADOUR

Hurras ad-Din (Guardians of Religion), a jihadist group in northern Syria’s rebel-held city of Idlib, announced that they had rejected an agreement between Ankara and Moscow to create a demilitarized zone in the area to protect civilians and disarm rebel groups, Deutsche Welle reported on Sunday.

The most influential rebel group in Idlib, Tahrir al-Sham, on the other hand, remained silent on the deal.

Hurras ad-Din, which thought the agreement undermined jihadist efforts in Syria, was established earlier this year by militants who left Tahrir al-Sham and al-Nusra, a terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.

According to the report, the jihadist group’s decision might jeopardize the agreement; however, it was Tahrir al-Sham’s final call that would be decisive.

Meanwhile, the third biggest group in Idlib, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is backed by the Turkish military, reportedly said they would follow the agreement only conditionally, adding that they would not put down their arms or give away the territory they control.

The agreement signed last week foresees the establishment of a demilitarized zone by Oct. 15. The zone will be monitored by joint Turkish and Russian army patrols.

Suspending its military offensive in Idlib, Russia expects Turkey to evacuate civilians and “moderate opposition groups” from the area.

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