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Salvaging Idlib Hinges on Nusra’s Fate

Salvaging Idlib Hinges on Nusra’s Fate

Thursday, 16 August, 2018 - 06:45
Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham fighters in the town of Maardes, northern countryside of Hama - 22 March 2017 (AFP)

Syria’s opposition is awaiting the outcome of the Russian-Turkish talks to settle the fate of Idlib as the regime continues to deploy military reinforcements in a sign that the battle for the province is shaping up.

Sources from both the opposition and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights agreed that efforts are being exerted for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (previously Jabhat al-Nusra) to either dissolve or avoid a regime attack on Idlib.

Director of the SOHR Rami Abdel-Rahman told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday that Russia and Turkey are mulling two options before the regime launches its military operations in Idlib - to force Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham to dissolve or move away from the province.

Abdel-Rahman said one of the options is for the group’s fighters to be taken to the countryside of northeastern Aleppo, pending its dissolution.

He added that the “principle problem with Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham is to determine the fate of the group’s leaders and foreign militants.”

The head of the politburo of Mu'tassim Brigades, Mustafa Sigari, and a military source in Idlib said the best solution is for the group to dissolve and therefore remove any pretext for an upcoming battle in the province.

Sigari told Asharq Al-Awsat that regime forces have already violated the Idlib truce, prompting opposition factions to respond to their attack.

He said the start of a battle in Idlib hinges on the Russian-Turkish agreement.

Separately, the French Presidency said Wednesday that President Emmanuel Macron spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan about the latest developments in the region.

During the phone conversation, Macron proposed helping Jordan secure its border with Syria and to further cooperate in the fight against ISIS within the framework of the international coalition.

Petra news agency said the King and the French President spoke about efforts to combat terrorism in line with a comprehensive strategy.

The Elysee also said Jordan's king would visit Paris in the coming months at the invitation of the French president.

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