The Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement on the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib is facing difficulties with the withdrawal of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militants from the demilitarized zone and the local administration in the governorate, a source familiar with the situation told the Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi on October 13.
According to the source, HTS may withdraw its militants from the demilitarized zone around Idlib, if Turkey agrees to keep the zone under the control of the “Salvation Government.” Last year, the radical group formed the so called “government” to use it as a proxy for its authorities in northwestern Syria.
Enab Baladi said that in the upcoming days Turkey will hold a meeting with all opposition groups and Russia will hold a meeting with the Damascus government in order to reach a roadmap for Idlib. The roadmap will likely determine the shape of the local administration in the governorate.
Despite the disagreement on the local administration in Idlib, the withdrawal of radical militants from the demilitarized zone before October 20 remains the priority of Russia and Turkey. A day earlier, local sources confirmed that the militants have not withdrawn from the zone yet. This may jeopardize the deconfliction agreement.