Syrian Rebels Withdraw Heavy Weapons to Spare Idlib From Assault by Carlotta Gall – New York Times
Syrian rebel fighters have pulled the last of their heavy weapons from front-line positions in Idlib Province, meeting the deadline for a truce negotiated by Russia and Turkey - and possibly sparing the civilian population from a bloody government offensive.
It was a rare act of unity for the ordinarily fractious rebel forces, who on Monday drove trucks carrying a tank, artillery and missile batteries out of their base in this small town, as a small group of international journalists looked on.
“We are now standing in the demilitarized zone,” said Saif al-Raad, a spokesman for the National Liberation Front, a grouping of roughly 20 rebel factions operating in Idlib, the last bastion of rebel-held territory in northwest Syria.
Under the agreement brokered personally last month by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the rebels are unilaterally withdrawing heavy weaponry to create a demilitarized zone 15 kilometers, or nine miles, wide. The deadline for the withdrawal is Wednesday, and a cease-fire is to commence five days later…