Jihadist Group Rejects Turkey-Russia Deal on Syria’s Idlib

Al-Qaeda still hasn't issued a statement on their position

A deal reached by Turkey and Russia sought to avoid a military confrontation in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib Province with a ceasefire and the creation of a demilitarized zone. This deal is looking shaky now, with reports that one of the substantial rebel groups has rejected the idea.

Huras al-Din, one of the larger Islamist factions, has announced that they will totally refuse to comply with the new deal, which would require them to withdraw from parts of their territory in the demilitarized zone, and move heavy weapons out of the area.

This is going to be a big obstacle, but a bigger one is looming. The largest Islamist group in Idlib, al-Qaeda, has yet to comment at all on their intentions, and if they also reject the deal, it effectively will mean that Russia, Turkey, and presumably Syria will be launching the offensive the deal was meant to avoid just the bring objecting jihadist groups in line.

Selling the deal is a big problem, as even the Turkey-dominated rebel factions offered only tepid support. They said they will “cooperate” with the pact, but ruled out ceding any territory. This might not be a problem, since Turkey is likely to ensure the demilitarized zone doesn’t cost their allies too much.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.