Ankara-Backed Militants Weary of Al-Nusra, Admit Necessity for Syrian Army’s Control on Demilitarized Zone

Syrian media outlets quoted sources close to high-ranking commanders of the Ankara-backed Ahrar al-Sham militant group, affiliated to the so-called National Freedom Front (NFL), as saying that after weeks of the violation of the Sochi Agreement by the Al-Nusra Front, a Syrian army assault on the groups still operating in the so-called weapons-free zone is now justified.

The sources were quoted by the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper on Thursday as saying that the Ankara-backed terrorists have fully accepted the Syrian army’s control over the demilitarized zone, and consider it entitled in starting purging operations in the region given Tahrir al-Sham (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and its allied militants’ violation of the Sochi agreement which has blocked efforts to reopen the Aleppo-Hama and Aleppo-Lattakia roads.

Accordin to the report, the Ankara-backed terrorists will not engage in any battle to expel Tahrir al-Sham and other terrorist groups from the arms-free zone because Turkey is not willing to fight against them for the fear of damaging its interests in Idlib and possible harms to its Southern borders with the province, which is under the occupation of extremist groups.

Relevant reports on Wednesday said that the terrorist groups stationed in the weapons-free zone in Syria had intensified their offensives against the army-controlled regions, adding that the Syrian army had engaged in heavy clashes with them.

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik reported on Wednesday night that Tahrir al-Sham launched over 40 missile strikes against the residential areas in Idlib province, including al-Khalediyeh, al-A’azamiyeh, al-Akramiyeh, al-Shahba, Seif al-Doleh, New Aleppo, al-Mothalaq and Shar’e al-Nil, as well as the army positions, killing and wounding several civilians.

It added that the Syrian army’s missile and artillery units responded to the attacks by targeting the terrorists’ positions in Western Aleppo, noting that heavy clashes are underway between the Syrian army forces and Tahrir al-Sham militants near Jamiyat al-Zahra region in Northwestern Aleppo.

Meantime, field sources reported that the terrorists in Western Aleppo have reinvigorated their positions in the region in the past few days and sent a large number of heavy weapons and military equipment to this front.

Also, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that the terrorists continue offensives against the army points in Northern Hama, saying that the Syrian army units responded by attacks against the terrorists’ moves in areas near al-Latamineh, the town of Murak, Wadi al-Dorat and Lahaya in Northern Hama and the village of Dawir al-Akrad and regions near al-Sarmaniyeh in Western Hama.

While the terrorists have intensified their attacks against the demilitarized zone in Northern Syria, the Turkish defense minister claimed on Wednesday that a large number of militants deployed in the region have withdrawn and violation of the ceasefire has decreased 90%.

But field reports show that after 10 days of implementation of the Sochi agreement, the terrorists have not left the region and even reinvigorated their positions.