ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Syrian rebel groups will complete the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from a demilitarised zone agreed by Turkey and Russia in northwest Syria’s Idlib on Monday, the state-owned Anadolu news agency said.
Under a deal agreed last month between Turkey and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main ally Moscow, rebels deemed as radicals are required to withdraw by the middle of this month from the zone, and heavy weaponry must be withdrawn by Oct. 10.
The Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) rebel alliance said on Saturday that the process of withdrawing heavy weapons had begun.
Turkish Broadcaster NTV said on Monday a large proportion of the mortars, artillery and missile ramps in the area had already been withdrawn.
Other Syrian rebels are due to remain within the demilitarised zone to assist Turkish troops monitoring and patrolling the area, the NFL has said.
The Turkey-Russia agreement halted a threatened Syrian government offensive. The United Nations had warned such an attack would create a humanitarian catastrophe in the Idlib region, home to about three million people.
The main jihadist group in the Idlib area, Tahrir al-Sham, has yet to say whether it will comply with the agreement.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocemen; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan and Angus MacSwan)