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Russia to broker new reconciliation deal in Eastern Qalamoun

Local | 2017-07-17 02:41:43
Russia to broker new reconciliation deal in Eastern Qalamoun
(Zaman Al Wasl)- The committee assigned to negotiate on behalf of the Syrian resistance controlled cities and towns of the eastern region of Qalamoun reached a “tentative agreement” with the al-Assad regime forces at a meeting held Sunday evening under the auspices of Russia.

Speaking to Zaman al-Wasl, a local source confirmed that the meeting which took place in the 81st Armored Brigade, located to the south-west of the city of al-Rahiba, was preceded by several sessions over the past weeks. The discussions focused on neutralizing the cities and towns of the region from any possible military action by either party.

The source, who declined to be named, said that the meeting concluded with four (test) items that included a mutual ceasefire in the region for two months from its date, with the possibility of amendments and renewal, depending on the circumstances and changes taking place on the ground at present and later.

The Journalists Association for the Eastern Qalamoun and Syrian Badia, the official spokesperson for the region’s Negotiations Committee, published a post on its Facebook page explaining the terms of the agreement. The terms include: the evacuation of all heavy and mid-range weapons from the region, preventing armed manifestations in the region, the regime pledged to activate hospitals, allow medicine and medical materials to enter and reactivate services to all cities and towns, the regime forces agree to reduce harassment on checkpoints surrounding the region, form a joint committee to discuss the ‘detainee’ and ‘dismissed employees’ files, and the cities are governed through locally elected councils with full privileges.

According to the source, the main reason the resistance factions in the region agreed to negotiate with the regime is to preserve civilian lives, enable civilians to avoid displacement or forced displacement that may result from any military action in the region. The source pointed out that the factions still strongly reject the regime’s item about it deploying army troops within the cities and the surrounding area or on the main roads that connect it to the mountains of Eastern Qalamoun.

In a related context, the Eastern Qalamoun area is currently controlled by various Syrian resistance factions, the most prominent being Jaish al-Islam, and the Ahmad al-Abdou Martyr Forces. In recent years, the factions battles have been restricted to fighting the Islamic State forces and preventing them from expanding as the Islamic State forces tried to reach the resistance headquarters in the Eastern Mountain and al-Petra causing them heavy losses in lives and equipment.

The Eastern Qalamoun region consists of the cities and towns of Jeroud, Rahiba, Nasiriyah, al-Atna and al-Dumayr. All these areas suffered as the regime, and its auxiliary militias’ imposed a choking siege on it since 2013. The regime and its auxiliary militias managed to strengthen the siege further after the Islamic State forces’ sudden withdrawal to the advantage of the regime forces which completely isolated the area from the whole of the Syrian Badia and Jordan.
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