Syrian regime forces blocked Russian efforts to sign a de-escalation agreement in the Eastern Qalamoun by preventing Moscow’s delegation from entering the rebel-held region on Monday, activists said.
Rebels have accused the regime of undermining the deal in an effort to reach its own reconciliation agreement which would dismantle the opposition’s power base. According to the local activists, the Russian-backed de-escalation zone deals would consider the rebels as important counterparts to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule in the area.
A military source told Zaman al-Wasl that representatives of the Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo, Jaish al-Islam and Al-Rahman Legion had met with senior Russian and American officers last week. An agreement was reached during the meeting that opposition-held cities and towns of the Eastern Qalamoun would be included within the map subject to the de-escalation zones.
The source added that the agreement was recognition of the opposition factions’ rule over Al-Ruhaiba, Jayrud, Nasiriyah and Dumayr.
A committee in charge of negotiating for the towns of Jayrud and Ruhaiba reached an incomplete agreement with the regime in the presence of a Russian delegation in July. The agreement stipulated a mutual cease-fire in both cities as well as other neighboring towns for a trial period of two months, which is renewable.
Although the resistance factions agreed with the Russian delegation on the terms of the agreement at the time, the regime sought to evade the negotiations and bypass the Russian sponsor.
Until this time, the regime has not issued any official response to the opposition's proposed items, while the area of the Eastern Qalamoun witnesses a general calm on all its fronts with the regime.
Since mid-2013, many locals have continued to face harassment and arbitrary arrest when passing through regime checkpoints set up at the entrances of these cities.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.