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    Syrian northwestern city of Idlib.

    Nusra Front Signals Readiness for Deal With Russia, Turkey in Idlib – Report

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    Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, issued a statement saying they are ready to abide by terms of a deal offered by Moscow and Ankara, but claimed they won’t give up their weapons.

    Hayat Tahrir al-Sham*, a Syria-based terrorist organization also often referred to as the Nusra Front*, has signaled that it is ready to agree to a Russian-Turkish deal that aims to prevent a military offensive targeting militants in Syria's Idlib province just one day before the deadline.

    Syria's main jihadist group said it made its decision after taking time for "consultation," according to Reuters.

    While not agreeing to the explicit terms of the deal, the group says it would seek to provide security for civilians in the area it controls and that it appreciated efforts to protect that area.

    "We value the efforts of all those striving — at home and abroad — to protect the liberated area and prevent its invasion and the perpetration of massacres in it," the Islamist group said in its statement, published via social media.

    "But we warn at the same time against the trickery of the Russian occupier or having faith in its intentions," it added.

    Fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front
    © AFP 2018 / Fadi al-Halabi / AMC
    The statement also said Tahrir al-Sham "will not forget" the foreign fighters who came to assist it.

    Another major militant force, the Turkey-backed National Liberation Front, announced its acceptance of the deal, Reuters reports.

    According to the terms of the deal, a demilitarized zone would be created running roughly 10 miles deep into militant territory from which all heavy weapons and terrorist fighters must withdraw.

    Nevertheless, Tahrir al-Sham stated that it will not end its jihad or hand over any weapons.

    Turkey has played an active role in persuading terrorists in Idlib province to agree to the deal, fearing that an offensive operation by Syrian forces might send another massive wave of immigrants toward the Turkish border.

    Turkey was estimated to be home to some 3.5 million Syrian refugees as of February of this year, according to the pro-government Turkish media outlet Daily Sabah. Ankara appears to be determined to prevent another wave of migrants at all costs.

    Idlib and adjacent areas — the last major stronghold of militants in Syria — are home to an estimated 3 million civilians, more than half of whom have reportedly been displaced at least once during the ongoing six-year war.

     

    *A terrorist organization, banned in Russia and a number of other countries.

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    Tags:
    demilitarized zone, deal, Tahrir al-Sham, Al-Nusra Front, Idlib, Turkey, Syria, Russia
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