The head of the group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, Abu Mohamad al-Joulani, refused Saturday, August 3 any withdrawal of a future buffer zone in the region of Idleb , after the entry into force of a truce in this area of northwestern Syria.
With our correspondent in Beirut , Paul Khalifeh
After the announcement of a truce negotiated by Russia and Turkey on Thursday, August 1, Damascus had set its conditions: the Syrian army's compliance with the ceasefire will be linked to the withdrawal of the jihadist groups from the demilitarized zone, 20 kilometers wide, agreed in September 2018 by Moscow and Ankara. This buffer zone has never been realized because of the refusal of the jihadists to withdraw as stipulated in the Sochi agreements concluded between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyeb Erdogan.
The violence has dropped significantly
On the ground, the violence has significantly decreased. Russians and Syrians suspended their air raids and the offensive operations ceased, only duels of artillery came to disturb the truce announced. The jihadist response came from the mouth of their leader at a meeting Saturday by Hayaat Tahrir al-Cham, with journalists based in Idleb.
Abu Mohammad al-Julani said that " the regime did not take it by force and by force, it will not get it peacefully through political negotiation ". " We will never withdraw from the buffer zone ," said the jihadist leader, who threatened to retaliate against any breach of the truce by the Syrian army and its allies.
►Also read: Syria: Idleb passes entirely under jihadist control