Syrian Islamists reject Russian-Turkish intervention in Idlib

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Syrian rebel fighters return from the battlefield in Idlib province, Syria. File photo: AP

ARA News

The Syrian jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) on Monday rejected a Russian-Turkish intervention in Idlib province, in northwestern Syria.

“Even though Turkey is seen by many as a “friend”, if it decides to put boots on the ground, all hell will break loose,” Mostafa Mahamed, a former spokesperson for the al-Qaeda-linked Syrian jihadist group said on Twitter.

HTS said that as they are not participants in the Astana peace talks on Syria, they are not bound by any agreement formed there.

Turkey, Russia and Iran are working on a mechanism on de-escalation zones in Syria involving the U.S. and respective zones assigned to each country, the Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said last week, adding that the Astana and Geneva processes will continue in order to establish permanent peace in Syria.

Kalın said that as part of the mechanism, Turkey and Russia could jointly deploy forces to Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.

“We will not accept, in any way, any foreign intervention that divides our country into countries’ zone of influence,” the HTS said.

Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and co-author of ‘ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror’,  said that the HTS is against the Russian-Turkish plan.

“On a maybe related issue, the idea of deploying Turkish troops in Idlib as part of the deescalation zones is a source of rebel contention. HTS, former Nusra, rejects the idea, but growing voices outside HTS say Turkish troops are better thing than a prospective regime attack,” he said.

“HTS called on followers and people in Idlib to resist any such plan, which they said was part of a conspiracy to bring back the regime. This debate is an opportunity for the opposition, and everyone. If HTS is shown to be blocking a reasonable solution to Idlib people,” Hassan added.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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