Translated by Ollie Richardson
The correspondents of Federal News Agency working at the front line in Aleppo have received exclusive footage of the first organized withdrawal of militants from the group “Ahrar al-sham” from the Eastern districts of Aleppo, agreed with the Center for Reconciliation and the Defence Ministry of Syria.
The source who captured the video material by smartphone cameras and made it available to the correspondents wished to remain anonymous. It should be immediately noted that this “evacuation” of a group of Islamists, organized under the mediation of the Russian and Syrian military, to date, has not knowingly been disclosed publicly by any of the parties.
Militants of “Ahrar al-Sham”, who wished to leave the combat zone in the area of Bustan al-Qasr, contacted the Syrian military without notifying them about the intentions of other factions controlling the adjacent neighborhoods. The evacuation was carried out very quickly, in the regime of radio silence.
The primary reason for the rapid exit of the militants from the area was the recent conflict between the commanders of the battalions “Ahrar al-sham” and “Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki”, who resisted government forces in the neighborhoods of Bustan al-Qasr and Bustan al-Basha. The cause of the conflict that erupted late in the evening of 17th October is still not exactly known. A dispute that arose between the commanders rather quickly turned into an active firefight, which claimed the lives of at least 12 Islamists.The Islamists of Ahrar al-Sham, whose number in the aforementioned areas is clearly inferior to the numbers of other groups, decided to present themselves as “secular opposition” on the channels associated in the SAA command and Republican Guard.
In total, more than 150 militants accompanied by military from the Eastern neighborhoods were evacuated in less than three hours using five buses. There is reason to believe that this event will not only weaken the position of the radicals in the residential sector of the Eastern neighborhoods, but also create a certain precedent that may force other Islamist groups to consider if further resistance is justifiable. According to information from military sources, some of the evacuated militants surrendered to the Syrian authorities with the condition of Amnesty, but most were taken to the province of Idlib.
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