Most heavy arms out of planned Syria buffer zone, says monitor

12 October, 2018, 21:06 | Author: Myra Gill
  • A Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighter near the city of al Bab

Turkey's defense ministry said on Wednesday the demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib has been formed and heavy weapons have been withdrawn, following an agreement by Russian and Turkish leaders in Sochi last month.

The creation of a buffer zone is central to an agreement reached last month by regime ally Russian Federation and rebel backer Turkey, which is aimed at staving off a massive assault on Idlib by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

He said Iran, Turkey and Russian Federation could expand their regional cooperation in Syria by overcoming all oppositions in order to add newer dimensions to security, defense and military issues.

All rebels in the demilitarised zone must withdraw heavy arms by Wednesday, and radical groups must leave by October 15, under the deal.

Despite the relatively speedy implementation of the accord's first deadline, observers say a thornier task lies ahead.

According to AFP reporters on site, heavy weapons, including tanks and artillery guns, were removed from the area and transported elsewhere, in Idleb.

A local source close to HTS said Ankara's actions demonstrated that neither Turkey, Russia, nor fellow regime ally Iran plan to break the deal.


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

"The most hard task will be the withdrawal of forces (jihadists) of the region", he explains.

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.

Many of HTS s fighters have battled for years in Syria under various groups and are keen to keep their influence in the war-ravaged country s largest remaining rebel bastion.

"It is making the assessment that Turkey will allow it to continue to operate in northwest Syria, so long as HTS keeps a low profile", he added.

Despite progress in implementing the accord, Assad insisted on Sunday it was a "temporary measure" and that Idlib would eventually return to state control.

Heras said Damascus and Moscow could use the grace period to focus on reconstructing Syria s war-ravaged infrastructure.

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