Former leader and judge of Syria’s al-Qaeda branch, Jabhet al-Nusra, Abu Maria al-Qahtani, has reportedly left Daraa to the Nusra-held districts of Idlib and Hama to the north, anti-government sources said.
The same sources confirmed that al-Qahtani, along with 180 Nusra fighters and their families, arrived at their destination.
A secret deal was allegedly concluded with the Syrian government to secure safe corridors for the ultra-hardline fighters to leave the southern city of Daraa.
Al-Qahtani took the leadership of Jabhet al-Nusra in Daraa coming from the northeastern city of Deir ez-Zor accompanied by hundreds of fighters and their families, following a rift with the group’s Emir Abu Mohammed al-Jolani.
The authenticity of such information has not been verified by Al-Masdar News.
Major agreements and deals have been recently concluded between the Syrian government and armed groups in various locations across Syria concurrently with fierce escalation of military operations in other contested areas.
These agreements and deals are viewed differently by both warring parties, whose foreign backers are evidently involved in such tactics.
Only two days ago, some 70 wounded rebel fighter escorted with their families (126 in total), left the besieged town of Zabadani (near borders with Lebanon) to Lebanon, where they will be eventually taken to Turkey.
At the same time, nearly 300 pro-government fighters and civilians were transported from the two Shia-populate towns of Fuaa and Kafraya in Idlib province. The deal was brokered by Iran and Turkey.
A similar UN-brokered deal was supposed to transport 4000 Islamist militants with their families (including ISIS jihadis) from the rebel-held district of Yarmouk Refugee Camp to the group’s de facto capital of Al-Raqqa.
However, the evacuation was delayed as a Syrian airstrikes killed Zahran Alloush, commander of the Saudi-backed Jaysh Al-Islam militia in Eastern Ghouta.
The hidden objectives of Syria’s government from patronizing such agreements are still unknown. However, analysts believe the Syrian Army’s military escalation, backed by Russian airstrikes, has considerably clamped down on militants so much that they preferred to be relocated to areas entirely under their control.
This, according to analysts, will give the Syrian Army and its allied forces the advantage of limiting the number of battlefronts and eventually increase the intensity of multi-warfare attacks.