On October 6, a commander of a pro-opposition armed group told the Reuters news agency that two Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups began withdrawing their heavy weapons from the demilitarized zone, which will be established around the governorate of Idlib under the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement.
“The process of withdrawing heavy weapons began this morning and will continue for a number of days … Light and medium weapons and heavy machine guns up to 57 mm will remain in place,” the commander said.
The Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi revealed that the two groups, which are withdrawing their heavy weapons, are the Free Idlib Army and Faylaq al-Sham. Both groups are a part of the National Front for Liberation (NFL), a Turkish-backed coalition formed last month.
A source familiar with the situation told Enab Baladi that all armed groups in the opposition-held area, including Hay’at Tahir al-Sham (HTS), will follow the Free Idlib Army and Faylaq al-Sham and withdraw their heavy weapons from the demilitarized zone.
According to the source, HTS accepted the Russian-Turkish agreement, but it didn’t announce that due to internal disagreements. There is a fact supporting this version. Earlier this week, HTS prevented al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din from carrying out an attack on Damascus government forces in northern Lattakia.
Under the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement, all armed groups should withdraw their rocket launchers, mortar cannons, artillery pieces and battle tanks from the demilitarized zone before October 15. If the groups failed to fulfill this condition, a military action will become a possible option to force them to fulfill the agreement.