Russia informs Free Syrian Army in Daraa that Idlib battle will begin in September
Military sources from the Daraa governorate, Southern Syria, said that Russia told the Free Syrian Army (FSA) negotiators, during the meetings in the city of Busra al-Sham, to prevent the FSA fighters from heading for the Idlib governorate, Northern Syria, because the battle there will begin next September.
In a voice record obtained by SMART, an FSA commander, Abu Ali Mahamid, said that the Russians "advised" the negotiators to prevent the FSA from heading for Idlib. Al-Mahamid added, "Russians advised them (the negotiators) not to head for the Idlib crematory; the military operation there will start in September and will end the same way the battle of Southern Syria ended."
Al-Mahamid, who is also a member of the Daraa City Consultative Council, said that the Russians "pledged" to the FSA negotiators that Russia will not persecute anyone in Daraa for his political background, adding, "Russia pledged to the United States and the Gulf countries not to persecute anyone."
The official spokesman of the opposition Central Operations Room of Southern Syria, General Ibrahim Jebbawi, confirmed the Russian "advice" to the FSA, saying, "It is true that Russia intimidated the FSA of heading for Idlib (…) and Russia is announcing in public that after Daraa, the Russian forces will move to Idlib."
On Monday, an FSA commander said that the FSA is expecting the loyalist forces to launch a military operation in the governorate of Idlib, advancing from the Lattakia governorate, after finishing their military operations in Daraa. The loyalist forces have been reinforcing their bases in Northern Syria for months.
The loyalist forces have led a military campaign for about three weeks in Daraa, killing and injuring dozens of civilians and displacing tens of thousands of others. Last Friday, the military campaign in Daraa ended with the FSA and Russia concluding an agreement that included a ceasefire, and for the FSA fighters who refuse to sign the agreement to head for Idlib.