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13 Oct 2018 | 12:12 AM UTC

Syria: Rebel groups withdraw heavy weapons from Idlib buffer zone as of Oct. 10 /update 6

Syria News Alert

Rebel groups remove heavy weapons from Idlib province buffer zone as of October 10; "radical" fighters ordered to exit the area by October 15

TIMEFRAME expected from 10/12/2018, 12:00 AM until 10/15/2018, 11:59 PM (Asia/Damascus). COUNTRY/REGION Idlib province

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Opposition rebels have reportedly complied with part of the Sochi agreement - ratified by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in September - and have removed all heavy weapons out of Idlib province's demilitarized zone as of Wednesday, October 10. Rebel forces remain in the demilitarized area with small arms and light weapons. The second stipulation of the agreement, which requires the withdrawal of "radical" fighters from the buffer area, has yet to be completed to meet the October 15 deadline. According to local sources, some of the relevant groups - notably including Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham - have refused to withdraw. A Syrian government attack on Idlib province remains possible in the near-term.


In mid-September, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone between Syrian government and rebel forces, stretching from northern Latakia province to northwestern Aleppo province. The creation of the zone - to be supervised by both Russian and Turkish forces and in effect from October 15 - is anticipated to postpone a previously expected Russia-backed Syrian government offensive on rebel-held areas of the province. The UN along with several other countries have warned that a full-scale offensive on Idlib province and surrounding rebel-held areas could result in a humanitarian crisis.

To date, the Syrian conflict involves many parties, including the Syrian government, the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Turkish government, a US-led coalition, and numerous armed groups on the ground (including the Islamic State) with competing goals. 


Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.


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