The situation in Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone has rapidly deteriorated over the past few days despite the ceasefire brokered by Moscow and Ankara, Kommersant writes. According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his patience is running out.
He earlier discussed the situation in Idlib with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the talks in Berlin. Meanwhile, media reports say that Ankara is handing over weapons to pro-Turkish Syrian groups in order to stop Assad’s offensive. In turn, Moscow accused the West of preventing the total mop-up of terrorist pockets of resistance in Idlib.
According to the Russian military, terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) are responsible for the deterioration of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
At the January 8 meeting between the two presidents in Istanbul, they announced the cessation of hostilities in Libya. However, it turned out that the next day that an agreement on Syria’s Idlib had been reached as well. Moscow earlier hosted negotiations involving high-ranking delegates from Turkey and Syria.
The agreement on Idlib stipulates setting up a 15-20 kilometer deep “safe zone” around Idlib. It also envisages the pullout of Jabhat al-Nusra militants and heavy equipment from the area.
“Bashar Al-Assad’s forces have continued bombing towns in Idlib and a ground offensive. Accordingly, efforts to establish a truce in Idlib failed. This is not in Assad’s interests, since the Russian-Turkish agreements prevented him from entering Maaret Naaman, a strategically vital inhabited community in Idlib,” Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) expert Kirill Semenov told the paper.
He added that Russia was ready to abide by the ceasefire agreement, but “Assad is rushing to solve the Idlib dilemma by dragging Russia into new operations.”
Sources: Kommersant, TASS