Beirut – The Syrian regime imposed a new reconciliation on opposition forces in the Barada Valley where fighting stopped on Thursday following a ceasefire reached under the U.N. sponsorship.
The truce agreement includes conditions that opposition factions had previously rejected, particularly those related to the withdrawal of fighters opposing such a deal and an amnesty for those wishing to remain in their areas by merging them in the ranks of regime forces and linked militias.
On Thursday afternoon, a delegation entered the Barada Valley where a deal was signed. The delegation consisted of a U.N. convoy accompanied by Syrian regime officials, a German official working with the U.N. – who had previously served as his country’s consul in Damascus, in addition to a representative from the International Community of the Red Cross.
Director of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, Rami Abdelrahman told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday: “There are reports that armed opposition factions had agreed on the text of the previous agreement, which stipulates the withdrawal of all fighters objecting the truce and the amnesty of those who decide to remain in the area, similar to what happened in Daraya, Maadamiyat al-Sham and other areas.”
Abdelrahman added, “The region entered a new phase that might be linked to the conditions of starting the political talks in Astana.”
For his part, opposition activist in Damascus suburb Diya’ al-Husseini told Ashaq Al-Awsat: “The ceasefire was signed by the regime and the majority of revolutionary factions in the Barada Valley.”
According to al-Husseini, the signed agreement includes 6 items:
1) A ceasefire and end to military operations in the area to take effect starting at 3p.m. on Thursday.
2) Repair workers will enter the Ain al-Fijeh water pumping station. At the same time, opposition fighters and factions from al-Jaroud will meet in the area’s towns.
3) There will be amnesty for fighters wishing to remain, on condition that they will leave the Barada Valley within six months.
4) Those who refuse amnesty will have their names recorded and will be moved to Idlib, under the protection of the U.N. and supervised by the International Red Cross.
5) The army and its linked militias will leave Baseema in a determined period of time. The army will remain in points that it reached in Ain al-Fijeh.
6) There will be reconstruction on the villages of Baseema and Ain al-Fijeh in a determined period of time.
Meanwhile, the Syrian regime announced on Thursday that their representative to the U.N. Bashar Jaafari will head the Syrian delegation to the Astana talks expected to kick off next Monday in the Kazakh capital. Opposition factions have finished 90 percent of their list but were still placing the last touches on their delegation that will be headed by Mohammed Allouch and which is expected to include around 25 personalities.
Leading member of the Syrian National Coalition, Samir Nashar told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There is an attempt to expand the delegation to include the largest number of factions who were still hesitant to participate.”
In a development indirectly related to the Astana talks, fighters from Jubhat al-Nusra launched an attack on positions linked to Ahrar al-Sham movement in the area of Jisr al-Shagour, in the western countryside of Idlib. Al-Nusra fighters were capable to control several positions of the movement.