Former U.S.-backed vetted Syrian opposition militia Liwa Shuhada al-Qaryatayn (ShQ) is relocating from the Tanf area in the southeastern desert to the north along with hundreds of civilians after striking a deal with Russia, according to reports.
Badia24 reported on Sunday, September 16 that Liwa Shuhada al-Qaryatayn fighters were preparing to go to Euphrates Shield areas in northern Aleppo “with hundreds of civilians” from the Rukban refugee camp, following the agreement with Russia. The deal was brokered through a local intermediary nicknamed Dabei al-Dumayr, whose real name is Ahmad Shaaban.
#FSA Liwa Shuhada al-Qaryatayn, former #VSO group operating in the 55 km deconfliction zone at al-#Tanf, are preparing to leave to #EuphratesShield areas in N #Aleppo with hundreds of civilians from Rubkan camp after an agreement with #Russia https://t.co/dnkSunp4bA
— كودي (@badly_xeroxed) September 17, 2018
The move was first reported by Palmyra News Network on Sunday.
The international Coalition against Islamic State and Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT), its partners in the 55-km deconfliction zone, were not involved in the deal, according to Hammurabi’s Justice, a media outlet closely connected to MaT.
Hammurabi’s Justice reported on Monday that the agreement was for 3,000 people associated with the Qaryatayn tribe to leave the deconfliction zone through regime-controlled territory and the north. MaT will provide limited transportation out of the 55-km zone, the report said.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that approximately 45,000 displaced people, mostly women and children, are currently living at the camp at Rukban on the Syria-Jordan border.
The Russian Ministry of Defence did not respond to request for comment. The Defense Post contacted the Coalition but did not receive a reply by publication time.
Both Coalition and MaT forces will remain in the deconfliction area to fight the remnants of ISIS present there, Hammurabi’s Justice said.
MaT says it has captured more than 20 ISIS fighters in the past two months.
Turkey-backed forces captured an approximately 2,000-square km part of northern Syria in its Operation Euphrates shield in 2016 and 2017, including the towns of Jarablus and Al-Bab near the Syria-Turkey border. It expanded the area under its control after the Operation Olive Branch campaign launched in January.
Last August, Colonel Ryan Dillon, then the spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, said that the Coalition allowed ShQ to keep some U.S.-supplied weapons and vehicles after the Coalition pulled its support from the group.
The Coalition and ShQ parted ways over the group’s refusal to focus solely on fighting Islamic State instead of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
ShQ spokesperson Abu Omar al-Homsi said at the time that the militia was refusing to turn over Toyota cars, medium weapons, light weapons and a number of lorry vehicles provided by the Coalition.