Pro-Turkey Syria rebels accept Idlib deal, albeit cautiously

The National Liberation Front have announced their ‘full cooperation with our Turkish ally in helping to make a success their efforts to spare civilians from the afflictions of war.’ (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Pro-Turkey Syria rebels accept Idlib deal, albeit cautiously

  • The National Liberation Front rebel alliance accepts deal reached or Idlib, but says they remain on their guard
  • Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since erupting in 2011
BEIRUT: Pro-Turkey rebels have cautiously accepted a Moscow-Ankara deal to prevent a Russia-backed regime attack on Syria’s last major opposition bastion of Idlib, while a small militant group has rejected it.
The dominant force in the northwestern region bordering Turkey, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) alliance led by militants of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, had on Sunday however still not responded.
Late Saturday, the National Liberation Front (NLF) rebel alliance in a statement accepted the deal reached on Monday for Idlib, but said they remained on their guard.
They announced “our full cooperation with our Turkish ally in helping to make a success their efforts to spare civilians from the afflictions of war.”
“But we will stay alert to any betrayal by the Russians, the regime or the Iranians,” the NLF warned, fearing the agreement to be “temporary.”
“We will not abandon our weapons, our land or our revolution” against the Russia- and Iran-backed forces of President Bashar Assad, the rebels said.
Also on Saturday, in a statement circulated on social media, the Al-Qaeda-linked Hurras Al-Deen rejected the agreement reached in the Russian resort of Sochi.
“We at the Hurras Al-Deen organization again announce our rejection of these conspiracies,” it said.
Monday’s agreement provides for a U-shaped buffer zone 15 to 20 kilometers (9 to 12 miles) wide to be set up around Idlib.
Under the deal, all factions in the planned demilitarized zone must hand over their heavy weapons by October 10, and radical groups must withdraw by October 15.
Both the extremist Hurras Al-Deen and NLF rebels are present inside this planned buffer area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
But the dominant HTS alliance is also widely present, according to the Britain-based monitor.
The militant-led group — which controls more than half of the Idlib region — has not officially responded to the agreement.
But its propaganda agency Ebaa has cast doubt on Turkey’s motivations.
In August, HTS leader Abu Mohamed Al-Jolani warned opposition factions in Idlib against handing over their weapons.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since erupting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.


UN's Guterres: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince contributed to reaching Yemen agreement

Updated 18 min 13 sec ago
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UN's Guterres: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince contributed to reaching Yemen agreement

  • UN Secretary General said crown prince had been “very important to the outcome of the consultations”
  • The secretary-general thanked those inside and outside the region that tried to encourage progress

LONDON: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi contributed to reaching agreements in Yemen and helped achieve the ceasfire in Hodeidah, the UN's Antonio Gutteres said on Thursday.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters at the organization's headquarters in New York Thursday that Guterres felt the crown prince’s contribution had been “very important to the outcome of the consultations” and that Hadi “played a positive role.”

The secretary-general thanked those inside and outside the region that tried to encourage the parties to make progress at the talks in Sweden and believes this was “valuable” in reaching Thursday’s agreement, Haq said.

Hodeidah is a key port in Yemen for those trying to import desperately needed food and supplies into the country.