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Ahrar al-Sham agrees with HTS to dissolve Hama branch and hand over weapons; Syrian government forces and Russia patrol Manbij area, Aleppo

Editing: Amena Riyad |
TranslationEditor: Vera Halvorsen |
Translation: Muhammad Ghaith

Local and field updates:

On Wednesday, the Ahrar al-Sham Islamist Movement agreed with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) to dissolve its branch in the Hama governorate, Central Syria, and hand over its heavy weapons.

Ahrar al-Sham fighters confirmed the agreement, which states that the Ahrar al-Sham should dissolve its branch in the al-Ghab Plain and Shahshabou mountainous area in Hama and hand over its heavy weapons to the HTS, keeping its light weapons only.

On Tuesday, the Educational Directorate of the Syrian Interim Government suspended school in Hama due to clashes between the HTS and NLF of the Free Syrian Army.

The directorate said in a statement that schools in areas of clashes in Hama should remain closed, and allowed the schools’ principals to judge when they should be reopened depending on the intensity of the clashes.

On Tuesday, the NLF said that its fighters killed and injured 130 HTS fighters in clashes in the Idlib and Hama governorates, Northern and Central Syria.

An NLF media activist said in a statement on Telegram that the NLF killed the HTS fighters in clashes in southern Idlib and western Hama.

On Tuesday, the NLF released 16 HTS fighters in Idlib in return for the release of NLF fighters in Aleppo, Northern Syria.

Local activists reported that the NLF released HTS fighters whom it captured days ago during battles in the town of Tal Minis and village of al-Ghadfa, Idlib.

On Tuesday, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the city of Maarrat al-Nu'man in southern Idlib rejected a suggestion from the Salvation Government to request a truce from the HTS to end the clashes between the factions.

On Tuesday, the Syrian government forces and Russia patrolled the Manbij area (38 kilometers east of Aleppo) near the Turkish border for the first time.

Muhammad Abu 'Adel, the commander of the Manbij Military Council of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), reported that the Syrian government forces and Russia patrolled an area west of the town of al-'Arima although the Syrian government forces withdrew from the town.

On Tuesday, a landmine explosion injured a civilian while a patrol of the Manbij Military Council of the SDF passed through the city of Manbij.

The Syrian government forces arrested two young men in the city of al-Bukamal, 120 kilometers east of Deir al-Zor, Eastern Syria. National Defense militia fighters established a checkpoint in the city and checked local residents’ identification papers.

On Wednesday, two men were killed in separate shootings in the al-Suwayda governorate, Southern Syria.

Local sources reported that the civilian Assad 'Aloom was killed last night when residents and local factions interfered to abort a kidnapping attempt in the al-Dubaisi neighborhood in al-Suwayda. The source added that the kidnappers opened fire, killing 'Aloom.

Political and international updates:

On Tuesday, a blizzard hit a Syrian refugee camps in the town of ‘Arsal, northeastern Lebanon, blocking roads and overwhelming tents with snow. The Lebanese government did not help the refugees.

Local sources reported that snow overwhelmed 131 camps sheltering 7,800 families. The sources added that the refugees’ living conditions became worse after roads leading to the camps were blocked.

On Tuesday, the spokesperson for the Turkish presidency Ibrahim Kalin stated that the United States informed Turkey that the US forces withdrawal from Syria will take 120 days.

On Tuesday, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied that the US forces have a deadline to withdraw from Syria. US officials said that the US forces’ withdrawal from the al-Tanaf base, Southern Syria, is not on the table now.

US media outlets reported officials in Pentagon as saying that the US forces’ withdrawal from Syria is dependent on field conditions and there is no specific date for the withdrawal.