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The New Arab

Syrian rebel alliance reject US-Russian brokered truce with regime

Ahrar al-Sham have been one of the most successful rebel groups [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 September, 2016

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Ahrar al-Sham - one of the biggest rebel alliances in northern Syria - have rejected a US-Russian brokered deal hours before it is due to come into effect.
One of Syria's biggest rebel groups has rejected a truce deal hours before a ceasefire is due to come into effect.

Ahrar al-Sham released a statement on YouTube dismissing the deal brokered by the US and Russia, saying it would "reinforce" the Syrian regime and "increase the suffering" of civilians.

Ahrar al-Sham makes up one of the largest opposition forces in Aleppo and are the first rebel group to publically react to Friday's deal. They are believed to be split between fighters sympathetic to al-Qaeda and a more moderate faction.

Syria's political opposition have said they will respect the deal.

Over the weekend, opposition areas in Aleppo and other rebel territories were pounded by Russian and regime bombs, leading to scores of dead.

"The people cannot accept half-solutions," Ali al-Omar, the group's leader said, shortly before the start of Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday.

"The Russian-American deal... will send all the sacrifices and gains of our people who have risen up into smoke. It will only serve to reinforce the regime and surround the revolution militarily."

Omar also rejected another key demand in the deal that rebel groups should break ties with Fateh al-Sham - formerly al-Nusra Front. The anti-regime force has been accused by Russia and the US of still being lligned al-Qaeda. 

Ahrar al-Sham have rejected the US-Russian brokered truce [Youtube]


Fateh al-Sham are not covered by the truce deal, which allows regime and Russian bombers to target areas where they operate. This includes most rebel territories, leading to fears that the bombing of cities such as Aleppo and Idlib will continue.

"It's simple - the Russian-American deal is intended to eliminate those who protect Syrians," Fateh al-Sham spokesman Mostafa Mahamed wrote on Twitter.

"The negotiations and the deals which do not take account of fighters on the ground are useless."

After weeks of negotiations the US and Russia - which has backed Bashar al-Assad with air raids - agreed a truce deal on Friday

The opposition have largely been sceptical about the move, which they say favour the Syrian regime and allows for the Russians to continue their bombing of Syria.

Damascus - along with its allies Iran and Hizballah - agreed to the ceasefire over the weekend, but has intensified its bombing of rebel civilian areas in recent days.

Earlier this year, a similar truce deal was broken by the regime after its newly reinforced Aleppo contingent launched an offensive of rebel forces there.

Around 93 percent of civilian deaths in Syria are believed to have been caused by regime and Russian air raids.

Meanwhile, a recent regime offensive saw Aleppo's eastern districts besieged again leading to fears of another punishing blockade might lead to more civilian deaths.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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