The Bashar al-Assad regime is seeking to seal a reconciliation deal in the Eastern Qalamoun region in a move which aims to advance efforts to secure the capital Damascus, according to local activists.
The defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in eastern Syria and the shift in the Saudi stance toward Assad’s future role were a big blow for rebels and besieged residents in Qalamoun, who now find themselves in the position of choosing the bitter reconciliation deal.
The Eastern Qalamoun region, which includes the towns of Jeroud, Rahiba, Nasiriyah, Al-Otna and Al-Dumeir, has been suffering from a choking regime-led siege since 2013.
Local activists accused the Assad regime of replacing the opposition’s negotiations committee with his loyalists in the area.
Media activist Wissam Abdel Nour said that a recent meeting was held between rebels and others civilian representatives from the town of Al-Ruhiba in an effort to enhance confidence and cohesion between the military and civilian sides. He added the discussions touched proposed initiatives for the possibility of reaching an agreement, which would ease the pressure on the region.
The eastern region of Qalamoun is home to around 250,000 civilians, about half of which are internally displaced people.
Several rebel factions operate in the area including Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), the Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo, Faylaq al-Rahman (Rahman Legion), Jaish Usud al-Sharqiya (Lions of the East Army), and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, which is led by the Nusra Front.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.