On September 7, a meeting was held between representatives of Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in the northern Homs countryside and Russian officials, according to Syrian opposition sources. The meeting was also attended by Syrian government officials.
Opposition sources revealed that the aim of the meeting was to modify the original de-escalation agreement. According to the sources, the Russians wanted the FSA to allow re-openning of the Homs-Homs highway that had been blocked since 2011.
Moreover, pro-government sources claimed that Russia asked the FSA to hand over al-Rastan and Talbiseh towns in the northern Homs countryside.
From its side, opposition representatives requested an immediate release of 5000 prisoners of war allegedly held by the Syrian authorities.
It’s unlikely that FSA will agree to the new Russian demands. Furthermore, even if the road was re-opened it will be hard to consider it a safe road. FSA groups in northern Homs countryside had involved in many attacks on civilian and military targets during the previous ceasefire agreements.
For example, on May 16, 2016 FSA groups in the northern Homs countryside attacked and killed over 49 civilians including women and children from the Alawite minority in al-Zara village although the village was a part of the Russian-USA ceasefire agreement.
Many FSA groups in the northern Homs countryside have already announced that it will work against the current de-escalation agreement.
Also it is unlikely that the Syrian Authorities would release this number of prisoners. The Syrian government will likely seek a military solution for the situation in the northern Homs countryside if the de-escalation agreement collapses.