Assassination campaigns targeted anti-regime officials in northern Syria, killing a military senior official opposed to the Russian-Turkish agreement on Idlib signed on January.
A joint Russian-Turkish plan to set up a demilitarized zone as a buffer between the Syrian regime forces and Syrian rebels was signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at a bilateral summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Syrian opposition media sources said unidentified gunmen assassinated a Guardians of Religion Organization military leader, who went by the alias As-Sayaf, near the town of Kansafra in Idlib’s countryside.
The incident comes a day after the opposition group announced rejecting to cooperate with the Russian-Turkish agreement.
“We (the Guardians of Religion Organization) reject the Sochi agreement on Idlib, and warn of it as this major plot draws parallels with the fallout of Bosnia’s disarmament agreement,” the group’s statement said.
“We advise our brothers to return to God and self-accountability,” the statement added.
The Guardians of Religion Organization is a merger of several al-Qaeda linked factions and Ahrar al-Sham defectors and is active in Idlib and nearby Latakia mountains. They rejected the Russian-Turkish agreement over the northern province of Idlib, saying it was an “existential battle” for the province.
Syrian opposition leader in the Free Syrian Army's National Liberation Front (FNL) said on Sunday that the Guardians of Religion Organization rejecting to collaborate on the Russian-Turkish Idlib agreement would “have no effect.”
On the other hand, Two Ahrar al-Sham members, Ahmed al-Salama and another who remains unidentified, were killed in an explosion targeting one of the group’s checkpoints near a rural village in Idlib.
Local Syrian opposition activists said that factions linked to the Guardians of Religion Organization had targeted a checkpoint for Russian troops east of the city of Idlib, two days after their announcement on rejecting the Turkish-Russian agreement.
Activists added that the group targeted a Russian outpost in Idlib’s Barghithi village, without any casualties being reported.
On retaliatory attacks, Syrian regime forces were reported to have shelled agricultural land in the villages in eastern Idlib.
The Syrian regime and Russian forces have military deployments in Idlib’s from their positions in Abu al-Duhur village.