Rebel faction targets Syrian, Russian positions in demilitarized zone

DAMASCUS, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — The al-Qaida-linked Hurras al-Deen rebel group on Saturday targeted positions of the Syrian government forces as well as areas where Russian positions are located in northern Syria in the demilitarized zone, a war monitor reported.

The group targeted the positions of the Syrian forces and its Russian allies in the countryside of Latakia province and the al-Ghab plains in the northwestern countryside of Hama province in central Syria with no reports on losses, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based watchdog group said the Syrian forces also targeted rebel positions in the rebel-held part of al-Ghab plains on Saturday with no reports on casualties.

The planned demilitarized zone stretches from the northeastern countryside of Latakia province to the northern countryside of the province of Hama and western countryside of Latakia as well as areas in the countryside of Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

Those areas ring Idlib, which is the last major rebel bastion in Syria.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, also known as al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, which is considered as the most powerful among the rebel groups in Idlib province, rejected to withdraw from the demilitarized zone.

The deal for imposing a demilitarized zone was reached in September between the leaders of Turkey and Russia, aiming at averting Idlib province from a wide-scale offensive by the Syrian army.

The Syrian government has welcomed the deal but noted that it was only temporary.

Turkey’s task in the deal is to persuade the rebel groups in Idlib to abide by the plan as Ankara enjoys sway over the militants there.

The Observatory said Saturday that the rebels are still in the zone and didn’t withdraw as planned.

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