Mod­er­ate op­po­si­tion sees Sochi deal vi­tal for diplo­matic so­lu­tion in Idlib

The deal reached be­tween Ankara and Moscow has strength­ened the mod­er­ate op­po­si­tion’s po­si­tion and raised hopes for a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the cri­sis in the coun­try

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

THE de­mil­i­ta­rized zone around Idlib, which was part of the Sochi deal, has raised new hopes among the Syr­ian mod­er­ate op­po­si­tion for a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion, Na­tional Coali­tion for Syr­ian Revo­lu­tion­ary and Op­po­si­tion Forces (SNC) Chair­man Ab­dur­rah­man Mustafa has said. “In the con­text of the Sochi deal that es­tab­lished a dis­ar­ma­ment zone, we vis­ited op­po­si­tion-held ar­eas, we saw that the mem­bers of the Free Syr­ian Army (FSA) have main­tained their po­si­tions in the re­gion,” Mustafa told the Anadolu Agency (AA) yes­ter­day dur­ing his two day visit to Idlib and the sur­round­ing re­gion.

HE said that the with­drawal of heavy weapons from the front­line has been com­pleted. “This agree­ment has opened the way for the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion. The regime and Rus­sia be­lieved in a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion in Syria, but we have al­ways fa­vored a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion. The Sochi deal both strength­ened us and the po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion.”

The deal, signed last month be­tween Turkey and Rus­sia to de­mil­i­ta­rize Idlib and pre­vent a regime as­sault, has been wel­comed in­ter­na­tion­ally and it has less­ened the con­cerns of a pos­si­ble hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

The FSA was Turkey’s main part­ner when it launched Op­er­a­tion Olive Branch to lib­er­ate north­ern Syria’s Afrin from the U.S.-backed Peo­ples’ Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG), which is the PKK ter­ror­ist group’s Syr­ian af­fil­i­ate, and Daesh ter­ror­ists in less than three months in March.

Re­cently, a mem­ber of the SNC Po­lit­i­cal Com­mit­tee, Yasser Fer­han, also praised Turkey for its ini­tia­tives, say­ing, “The with­drawal of the weapons is a pos­i­tive step and a proof that op­po­si­tion groups have trust in Turkey.”

Dur­ing the visit, Mustafa also talked about the sit­u­a­tion of the civil­ians who live close to the front lines and said that with the ac­com­pa­ny­ing del­e­ga­tion, they lis­tened to their prob­lems.

In re­la­tion, he said that they found the agree­ment as a right step to solv­ing the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis. “Un­der the agree­ment, the se­cu­rity of the civil­ians will be en­sured,” Mustafa added.

Stat­ing that they will pro­duce re­al­is­tic and ap­pli­ca­ble projects to ad­min­is­ter the re­gion re­gard­ing the pro­ceeds of the agree­ment, Mustafa stressed that they will co­or­di­nate with the in­sti­tu­tions that have di­rect con­tact with the civil­ians.

Upon Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan’s pro­posal at the sum­mit held in Tehran on Sept. 7, Er­doğan and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin dis­cussed the preser­va­tion and for­ti­fi­ca­tion of the cease-fire, as well as tak­ing ad­di­tional mea­sures for the con­sol­i­da­tion in Sochi on Sept. 17.

The un­der­stand­ing be­tween Er­doğan and Putin saw the es­tab­lish­ment of a dis­ar­ma­ment zone of 15-to-20-square-kilo­me­ters by Oct. 15. It will be jointly mon­i­tored by the Turk­ish and Rus­sian armed forces.

Within the frame­work of the Sochi deal, the mil­i­tary op­po­si­tion and anti-regime forces in Idlib com­pleted the process of pulling heavy weapons from the front line on Wed­nes­day.

The Turk­ish De­fense Min­istry re­leased a state­ment con­cern­ing the process of the with­drawal of the op­po­si­tion forces’ heavy weapons from the re­gion.

Ac­cord­ingly, Turkey has com­pleted its own part of the deal and stated that the ef­forts to put an end to ten­sion in the re­gion will con­tinue. RUS­SIA UN­COM­FORT­ABLE WITH U.S. PRES­ENCE IN NORTH­ERN SYRIA

Dur­ing a weekly press con­fer­ence, Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son Maria Zakharova touched upon the re­cent de­vel­op­ments in the east of the Euphrates on Wed­nes­day. Com­ment­ing on the U.S. sup­port for the YPG, Zakharova said, “The sit­u­a­tion in the east­ern coast of the Euphrates is be­com­ing more dis­turb­ing.”

In­di­cat­ing that the Amer­i­cans are al­lied with the struc­tur­ing in the re­gion, she said that lo­cal res­i­dents in the re­gion are not sat­is­fied with the ar­bi­trari­ness of the U.S.-con­trolled lo­cal se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

“The ef­forts aim to es­tab­lish a spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tion which does not com­ply with the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tion in Syria,” Zakharova said af­ter stress­ing that “the con­struc­tion of such a semi-state an­noys the nonKur­dish pop­u­la­tion, Arabs, Assyr­i­ans and Turk­mens.”

The ul­ti­mate aim of the YPG is to es­tab­lish an au­ton­o­mous re­gion in north­ern Syria by con­nect­ing the north­west­ern Afrin to Kobani and Jazeera in the north­east.

The Man­bij deal be­tween Turkey and the U.S. pro­vided the with­drawal of the YPG ter­ror group from north­ern Syr­ian city lo­cated west of the Euphrates River in or­der to es­tab­lish sta­bil­ity in the re­gion.

The deal en­vis­ages the de­ploy­ment of Turk­ish forces to as­sure peace in the re­gion and also to train the lo­cal forces to es­tab­lish and main­tain se­cu­rity.

Stu­dents in a class­room in Kafr vil­lage of Jisr al-Shughour district in the Idlib prov­ince of Syria, yes­ter­day.

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