The fighters say they have finished withdrawing heavy weapons from a planned buffer zone in northwestern Syria under a deal set up by Turkey and Russia to stave off a regime attack.

A rebel fighter rides a military vehicle in Dahiyat al Assad, west Aleppo city, Syria on October 28, 2016.
A rebel fighter rides a military vehicle in Dahiyat al Assad, west Aleppo city, Syria on October 28, 2016. (Reuters)

Opposition groups in Syria's northwestern Idlib have completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline, under the agreement between Russia and Turkey regarding the creation of a demilitarised zone, Anadolu Agency reported on Monday.

No further details were immediately available. 

All rebels in the demilitarised zone must withdraw heavy arms by Wednesday, and radical groups must leave by October 15, under the deal.

Naji Mustafa, a spokesman for the National Front for the Liberation of Syria affiliated with the Free Syria Army (FSA), told Anadolu Agency  that the light weapons would remain and they would continue digging ditches as a measure against a possible attack by the Syrian regime.

"The removal of heavy weapons is being carried out with the coordination of Turkish authorities," he said.

Turkey-Russia deal

Following a meeting in Sochi last month between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two countries agreed to establish a demilitarised zone in Idlib, Syria’s last opposition stronghold.

Ankara and Moscow also signed a memorandum of understanding calling for the "stabilisation" of Idlib's de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present, while Russia and Turkey will conduct joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing renewed fighting.

The National Liberation Front (NLF), the main Turkey-backed rebel alliance in the Idlib area, announced on Saturday it had begun withdrawing heavy arms  as part of the agreement and the withdrawal would take several days. 

The Syrian war has left more than 400,000 people dead since it began in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies