Terrorist organizations Jabhat al-Nusra* and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham have agreed, under pressure from Turkish intelligence, to disband and withdraw their forces from the demilitarized zone in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, Al Watan newspaper reported, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.
Al-Watan newspaper reported, citing sources close to the Turkish Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front, that Turkish intelligence had held several meetings with the leadership of these two groups.
The sources said that Turkish intelligence had put pressure on the groups’ leaders, while also pledging that the government would not carry out a military operation in Idlib.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, in turn, pledged to change its structure and alter its jihadist ideology so that Ankara does not qualify it as a terror organization any longer, the newspaper added.
For its part, al-Nusra promised to withdraw its troops and heavy weapons from the demilitarized zone, without any official announcement of the move, according to the media.
Al-Nusra further promised to disband its so-called “rescue government” that manages the territories the group controls in Idlib. Part of this government will merge with the interim government created by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.
Al Watan specified that Jabhat al-Nusra’s condition for disbanding was a guarantee of security for its members and leadership.
Idlib remains the only province from which the Syrian government has still not eliminated extremist and rebel forces. In mid-September, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to set up a demilitarized zone in the Syrian province of Idlib by October 15.