On March 28, Russia started negotiating with the remaining militants of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) south of the Syrian capital of Damascus, according to the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Madar Daily.
The Madar Daily reported that the Russian side wants the militants to withdraw from their remaining positions in the districts of Yalda, Babbila, and Beit Sahm to the northern governorate of Idlib or to join the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and to fight ISIS in the nearby Yarmouk refugee camp.
Commanders of the militants in Yalda, Babbila, and Beit Sahm held a meeting to discuss the Russian proposals, according to Madar Daily. During the meeting, most of the commanders refused to join the fight against ISIS. However, all FSA commanders positively reacted to an idea of withdrawing towards Idlib governorate.
Meanwhile, Syrian pro-government sources said that local figures and religious scholars from the SAA-held areas around the districts of Yalda, Babbila, and Beit Sahm, have contacted the militants in order to convince them to accept the Russian offer.
The vast majority of the civilians in Yalda, Babbila, and Beit Sahm districts are actually supporters of the Damascus government. On January 25, thousands of civilians, including women and children, protested in the three districts against the militants and called on them to withdraw.
Due to the public support for the Damascus government in southern Damascus, the militants will likely accept an evacuation agreement soon.