Syrian rebels complete arms pullout from Idlib

A Syrian rebel fighter of the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front checks his machine gun on the front line with government forces in the southeast of Idlib province

A Syrian rebel fighter of the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front checks his machine gun on the front line with government forces in the southeast of Idlib province

In September, Russia and Turkey agreed to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib along the line of the engagement of the Syrian troops and the opposition.

Ferhan's remarks came a day after the Syrian opposition and other anti-regime groups completed the withdrawal of all their heavy weapons from Idlib frontlines.

"Following the successful measures taken by Iran, Russia and Turkey in settling the Syrian issue, their [US and regional states] concerns only continued to grow, but Iran and Turkey, with their strong historical roots, will not be shaken in the face of such threats", said Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in a meeting with Turkish Grand National Assembly Speaker, Binali Yildirim, on Tuesday.

The NLF pullout was confirmed to AFP by spokesman Naji Mustafa.

Under the deal, the zone must be free by October 15 of all extremists, including those of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the region's dominant force led by former Al-Qaeda fighters.

Five days of the deadline, the fighters of HTS and other groups-jihadists do, however, have shown no sign of a possible departure.

According to the deal, the zone would separate rebel and regime zones under the supervision of the two sponsor countries.

Haid Haid, an associate fellow at the Chatham House think-tank, said HTS had made the "pragmatic" move of pulling out its heavy weapons.

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

The syrian foreign minister Walid Mouallem has said to him confident in the ability of Turkey to fulfill its part of the agreement "because of his knowledge of the factions" the insurgent.

"HRT long-term to Idleb", says Nicholas Heras, a researcher at the Center for a New American Security. It considers that "Turkey will allow her to continue to operate in the north-western syrian as it will be low profile".

"As long as HTS stays on Turkey s good side, it has a golden opportunity to set permanent roots in Idlib", Heras said.

Forces loyal to Assad have retaken swathes of territory in Syria since Russian Federation entered in the war in September 2015.

A series of offensives earlier this year saw a succession of longtime militant strongholds surrender and a similar Russia-back assault had been expected in Idlib before the truce deal was announced last month.

Heras said Damascus and Moscow could use the grace period to focus on reconstructing Syria s war-ravaged infrastructure.

"Assad wants to regain Idleb, but for the moment, he has no better option than this agreement", said Mr. Heras.

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