On September 22, the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) welcomed the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement on the governorate of Idlib and thanked Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his efforts that prevented what the group called an “unjust war.”
Despite of its positive attitude towards the agreement, the Turkish-backed groups said in its official statement that it doesn’t trust Russia. According to the NFL’s claims, the Russian side has not respected several previous agreements.
“Despite of our full cooperation with our Turkish ally to facilitate their efforts to spare civilians from the scourge of war, we will remain alerted and wary of any treachery from the side of the Russians, the regime and the Iranians,” the NFL statement reads.
The NFL is the biggest coalition of Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in the opposition-held areas in northern Syria. The group was formed on August 1 after pressure from Turkey, according to Syrian opposition activists.
While the NFL welcomed the Russian-Turkish agreement, al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din released an official statement, in which it rejected the agreement and called it a “major conspiracy.” The terrorist group even demanded support and called for resuming attacks against Syrian government forces.
“We call on our faithful brothers in all Islamic countries to rush to the land of al-Sham [Syria] and to support the people of al-Sham, we also call on the rich to spend in the way of God and to support the Shami Jihad,” Horas al-Din said in its statement.
Seven al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in northwestern Syria merged their forces to form Horas al-Din on February 27. Local observers said that many small groups have defected from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham to join the new al-Qaeda-affiliated force since then.
HTS is yet to announce its stand on the Russian-Turkish agreement, which likely indicates its approval as it rejected several other agreements immediately before. Furthermore, the group’s closest ally, Jaysh al-Izza, openly voiced its support for the de-confliction agreement few days ago.