Hay’at Tahir al-Sham (HTS) [the former branch of al-Qaeda’s in Syria] will not withdraw from the demilitarized zone around Idlib, despite the new ceasefire agreement, the terrorist group’s leader Abu Mohammad al-Julani announced during an interview on August 3.
“The enemy couldn’t occupy the 20km it is talking about with force, how we would give it away peacefully! It’s within our military duty to defend the liberated areas … We will not withdraw a single soldier or a single weapon from any position, and we will not relocate to any area upon the wishes of the enemies or the friends,” the infamous terrorist told local journalists in Idlib.
Withdrawing all heavy weapons and terrorists from the 20km demilitarized zone around Idlib is the main condition of the new ceasefire agreement, which HTS had formally accepted.
Al-Julani didn’t stop by challenging this main term, but went on and vowed to recapture all the towns and villages HTS lost to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the last three months, including Kafr Nabudah and Qalaat al-Madiq.
“HTS will not voluntarily agree to the entrance of any Russian soldier to the liberated areas … If they want to enter militarily we will have the honor of repelling their advance attempt, as we have done before thanks to God,” al-Julani said commenting on any possible Russian patrol within the demilitarized zone.
Throughout the interview, al-Julani ignored HTS’ heavy losses and attempted to portray the new ceasefire as a victory for his group and its allies.
Al-Julani’s remarks indicate that HTS and its allies are no willing to honor Sochi agreement, which is the main base of the new ceasefire. Furthermore, his threats could lead to a new escalation around Idlib.