Idlib Governorate’s Factions Complete Withdrawal of Heavy Weaponry from Buffer Zone

A Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighter near the city of al Bab

Under the agreement, all militant groups have a Wednesday deadline to withdraw all their heavy weaponry from a 15- to 20-kilometres buffer zone along the front line in Idlib province and adjacent areas of the northwest.

As the expert said, at the moment its consent to withdraw tanks and other heavy weapons into Idlib expressed only acting against Damascus so-called "Syrian free army" and other groups continue to modernize occupied fortifications.

Under the deal agreed last month between Turkey and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's ally Moscow, "radical" rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of this month from the zone, and heavy weaponry must be withdrawn from the 15-20 km buffer zone by October 10.

Naji al-Mustafa, spokesman for the National Front for Liberation, a Turkish-backed umbrella group, said Sunday the alliance had unanimously agreed to implement the deal reached last month and expected to demilitarize 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) along the front lines by October 15.

HTS, which is led by former al-Qaeda fighters, has yet to comment on its reported withdrawal or announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.

It has been decided that October 15 be the dead line for the removal of the heavy weaponry and the departure of the "hard-liner" factions from the area, agreed upon by Turkey and Russian Federation.

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The jihadists of HTS as well as the islamic Party of Turkistan (TIP) and Houras al-Din control more than two-thirds of the future buffer zone.

"The presence of Turkish forces and their posts will prevent any military action", the source said.

"Of course implementing the heavy weapons point is easier", he said.

HTS and other hardliners hold a large part of Idlib province and the proposed demilitarised zone, while the National Liberation Front is the main Turkey-backed rebel alliance in the area.

The start of the NLF pullout was confirmed to AFP by its spokesman Naji Mustafa.

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