Iran Again Excludes Assad Regime in Deal With Rebel Factions

Iranian negotiators independently reach deal with commanders of major rebel alliance to secure the exit of 250 people from the towns of Kefraya and Fua

Iran departed from the Bashar al-Assad regime for the second time in an agreement it reached with factions from the Syrian opposition allowing for people to leave the villages of Kefraya and Fua in the Idleb countryside, as well as the city of Zabadani, which is under siege by the regime and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah in the Damascus countryside.

Al-Souria Net learned that a number of Iranian officials reached the agreement with leaders in the Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) operations room to allow 250 people to leave Kefraya and Fua, which are populated largely by Shiites, in exchange for letting the same number leave Zabadani. The agreement completely excluded the Assad regime, which did not participate in the negotiations that preceded the deal, nor in its implementation.

The media activist Mohamed Najed from the Binish opposition coordination council told Al-Souria Net that the deal “took place between Iranian negotiators and Jaish al-Fatah only.”

The regime was also not part of the first agreement Iran reached with the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement last year, which included the release of civilians from Kefraya and Fua in exchange for the exit of fighters from Zabadani.

The deals between Iranian officials and the Syrian opposition reflect the extent of pressure which the Assad regime has reached and its loss of control over strategic decisions in the country. In this context, the defected General Ahmed Rahel previously told Al-Souria Net that the negotiations by Iranians on behalf of Assad are not a surprise, adding that Syria has been under Iranian occupation since mid-2013.

Rahel noted that Iran had become the political and military decision maker in Syria, implying the increasing marginalization of the regime’s head Bashar al-Assad, “who has turned into an authority legitimizing whatever Iran wants.”

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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