Around 1,000 fighters of the Ahrar al-Sham Movement and Jaysh al-Nasir have withdrawn from their positions in the opposition-held part of Hama countryside to the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin, the Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi reported on January 13.
Both the Ahrar al-Sham Movement and Jaysh al-Nasir are a part of the National Front for Liberation (NFL) coalition, which was formed last year after pressure from Turkey.
The pro-opposition outlet’s reporter said that another 1,700 Turkish-backed militants are preparing to withdraw to Afrin in the upcoming 24 hours. According to the report, the militants took this decision because they don’t trust Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which took over their positions recently.
“The fighters’ withdrawal from the region is a loss for the frontlines with Assad’s forces in northwestern Hama, HTS can’t fill the gap immediately,” the reporter said.
HTS launched a surprise attack on the positions of the NFL in the northern Hama countryside at the early hours of January 8. After a day only, the Turkish-backed coalition surrendered and accepted a humiliating surrender agreement that allowed the radical group to impose control of the enter region.
Many local observers had warned that the radical group will take advantage of the Russian-Turkish demilitarized zone agreement and expand its influence in the opposition-held part of northwestern Syria. However, these warnings were largely ignored.