Hard­line Is­lamist rebels re­ject truce

The Myanmar Times - - World -

AN in­flu­en­tial Syr­ian rebel group, the hard­line Is­lamist Ahrar al-Sham, has re­jected the truce deal bro­kered by Rus­sia and the United States.

A high-rank­ing mem­ber of the group, which works closely with for­mer al-Qaeda af­fil­i­ate Fateh al-Sham Front, said that the deal would only serve to “re­in­force” the regime of Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad and “in­crease the suf­fer­ing” of civil­ians.

Ahrar al-Sham, which has an in­flu­en­tial pres­ence on the ground in Syria’s bru­tal war, is the first rebel group to of­fi­cially re­act to the deal reached on Septem­ber 9 fol­low­ing marathon talks in Geneva.

“The peo­ple can­not ac­cept half­so­lu­tions,” the group’s deputy leader Ali al-Omar said in a YouTube video to mark the start of the Mus­lim hol­i­day of Eid al-Adha yes­ter­day, when the truce was due to come into force.

Mr Omar also re­jected the as­pect of the deal in which Wash­ing­ton is sup­posed to con­vince main­stream op­po­si­tion fight­ers to break their al­liance with Fateh al-Sham.

That group, which is not cov­ered by the truce deal, has also dis­missed the ac­cord.

“It’s sim­ple: The Rus­sian-Amer­i­can deal is in­tended to elim­i­nate those who pro­tect Syr­i­ans,” Fateh al-Sham spokesper­son Mostafa Ma­hamed said.

“The ne­go­ti­a­tions and the deals which do not take ac­count of fight­ers on the ground are use­less.”

The truce comes with op­po­si­tion forces strug­gling on the ground.

Pro-regime forces reim­posed a dev­as­tat­ing siege on Aleppo’s eastern dis­tricts last week in a ma­jor blow to the rebels. The As­sad regime and its al­lies have said they will re­spect the truce deal. –

Photo: EPA

Fire­fight­ers ex­tin­guish a fire fol­low­ing an airstrike by forces loyal to the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment in the rebel-held area of Douma on Septem­ber 11. The strikes came a day ahead of a ceasefire agreed be­tween Rus­sia and the United States, as well as by Syria’s gov­ern­ment, which took ef­fect yes­ter­day.

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