Fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the Eastern Ghouta region east of the Syrian capital, Damascus, will be evacuated to northern Idlib governorate in the upcoming days, according to Syrian oppositions sources.
The sources reported on December 7 that the evacuation is part of a deal between Russia and several Syrian opposition armed groups in Eastern Ghouta.
The opposition sources also said that the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) will hold its bombing campaign in Eastern Ghouta as a part of the supposed deal. However, so far the deal was not confirmed officially by any side.
Local sources from Eastern Ghouta said that there are only 500 fighter fighters of HTS in the region. According to the sources many of them are not willing to leave the area to Idlib.
Meanwhile, a commander of HTS in Eastern Ghouta told the Syrian opposition news outlet Enab Baladi that only the foreign fighters of HTS will be evacuated to Idlib governorate, which is under the control of HTS.
On January 6, several opposition sources claimed that a deal was reached to evacuate HTS fighters from the towns of Aqraba, Beit Sahm, Yalda and Babila south of Damascus. However, the deal failed because HTS refused to leave the towns.
The supposed new deal in Eastern Ghouta will likely fail too, as HTS’ main strategy is to keep its fighters as close to the Syrian capital as it’s possible to threaten it in case if the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) attacks its heartland in Idlib.