Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Ghouta Ceasefire… Local Administration, Commerce with Damascus | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian men ride their bicycles at the rebel held besieged Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria July 23, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

London- A draft received by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper of the agreement reached with the Syrian opposition on how a ceasefire will function in Damascus’ Ghouta stipulates deploying 150 Russian police officers at the cross-line between regime forces and the opposition.

Also, the draft of the agreement demands lifting the siege off Ghouta and offers the freedom of the transfer of goods and civilians through the Wafideen camp to Damascus, in addition to electing a local council for the area.

Early this year, Russia, Iran, and Turkey agreed to form four proposed safe zones in Syria, including the Eastern Ghouta area.

An opposition official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the founder of Tomorrow Movement Ahmad Jabra was the “godfather” of the agreement, which already started last Friday but witnessed on Sunday some breaches.

The source said Jabra was in contact with political and military officials in Moscow and had arranged for the talks between representatives from the Russian defense ministry and Jaysh al-Islam in Cairo last week.

The draft text of the agreement said: “Russia and the other side should respect a specific timetable to withdraw all foreign militias from Syria, particularly those supporting sectarian slogans that contradicts the national identity.”

The involved parties agreed on the borders of the zone and locations of deployment and the forces monitoring the de-escalation.

Also, the text stipulates the election of a local council formed by the residents of this area. “The council should manage the affairs of citizens and secure the safety of their activities.”

In Article 4, the text of the agreement says the Syrian opposition should guarantee the non-presence of any Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants in its controlled area inside eastern Ghouta.

Article 10 of the draft adds that the agreement, in the second phase, should facilitate the economic and commercial activity without setting the quantity and quality of the products transferred from or to eastern Ghouta, including fuel, repair parts, and other necessary devices.

In Article 12, the text says that the opposition should accept that Russia be the guarantor for the execution of this agreement, while Article 13 stipulates putting a mechanism for the immediate release of hostages.

The concerned parties signed three versions of the agreement in the Arabic and Russian languages.