Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Renewed De-Escalation Deal in Homs, Hama’s Countryside | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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File Photo, Residents watch the skies during an air raid by forces loyal to Assad. Saad Abobrahim/Reuters

Beirut, Ankara — Syrian opposition factions in the countryside of Homs and Hama announced on Thursday signing a renewed “de-escalation” agreement with Russia, six weeks after the Syrian regime breached a similar deal.

A delegation of the Syrian opposition negotiators met with a Russian delegation at Al-Dar al-Kabeer crossing and agreed on an immediate ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors,” a negotiation committee created by opposition factions announced on Thursday.

The delegation of opposition negotiators also submitted to the Russian side a list of over 12,000 regime-held detainees from across the province, and received “a pledge that Russia is willing to seriously work on their release.”

Leading opposition representative Osama Abu Zeid told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that the agreement was preceded last week by a series of meetings held between the two sides without the presence of any representatives from the Syrian regime.

“The agreement, similar to previous agreements signed in other regions, did not include any deal concerning the deportation of civilians and armed fighters from their villages or the handing over of weapons,” Abu Zeid said.

He said that the negotiation committee told the Russian mediator that it completely rejects opening the Homs-Hama international road, which constitutes a part of the Aleppo-Damascus international railway.

However, the regime insists on opening it, prompting the opposition to note violations of the agreement only hours after it was singed.

Last August, Al-Ghad, a Syrian political opposition group based in Cairo and headed by Ahmad Jabra, brokered a deal between opposition factions and the Damascus government, sponsored by Egypt and Russia in the northern countryside of the Homs province.

However, days after the deal was announced, Syrian warplanes conducted airstrikes on agricultural regions in the area, violating the agreement.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan announced on Thursday that the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) would be positioned within Idlib.

“In the upcoming days, the relevant departments will take the necessary steps. A division of duties has been made regarding the de-escalation zones. Steps will be taken to ensure the safety and security of the residents,” Erdogan said on his return flight from a one-day trip to Iran.

The Turkish president added that TAF would be positioned within the borders of Idlib, while the Russian armed forces will be positioned outside its borders.