DAMASCUS, SYRIA (12:00 P.M.) – In an unexpected turn of events, a Russian delegation arrived in rebel-held northern Homs on Monday to negotiate with local Islamist groups over the possibility of reopening the M5 Highway which runs vertically through the rebel pocket.
As reported earlier by Al-Masdar News, the meeting took place at the crossing into Dart Kabeera town; new revelations confirm that five Islamist commanders from various rebel factions attended the talks although the outcome of the negotiation is yet to be revealed.
Footage of the meeting shows heavily armed Russian bodyguards entering the rebel stronghold while Syrian militants armed with AK-47’s allowed the reconciliation delegation to pass safely by:
Amid a wider bid to mend ties with rebel forces in the Homs pocket and reinforce the de-escalation agreement, the Russian Army hopes to establish checkpoints along the M5 Highway to allow trade to flow more easily between the cities of Hama and Homs.
It has not yet transpired what terms Islamist commanders want in return; however, speculations indicate that they wish for a no-fly zone to be inforced over northern Homs.
Regardless, the large presence of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) fighters is said to be the main obstacle to negotiations as the Russian Army wishes to exclude the Al-Qaeda aligned group from any coming deal.