Resolving the situation in Syria’s Idlib province will depend on dialogue between Moscow and Washington, Senior Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies Boris Dolgov told TASS. According to him, political talks on the Idlib de-escalation zone will precede a possible military operation by the Syrian government forces.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier told reporters that government troops were going to focus on the Idlib province and other areas where terrorists were still active.
“It is too early to speak about resolving military and political aspects as it depends on Turkey’s position, as well as on global politics, on the way dialogue between Russia and the US goes,” the expert said.
According to Dolgov, taking into account the tangled interests of several global and regional players, political dialogue should precede any military operation of the Syrian army.
“A number of questions arise here as some of the groups based in Idlib are supported by Ankara and the province borders Turkey,” the expert went on to say. “Some groups have the support of the Gulf monarchies, while others maintain contacts with the US-led coalition. This is why it will be difficult for the Syrian Army to achieve the goal of eradicating this enclave of armed opposition units,” Dolgov pointed out.
In his opinion, time will tell if Damascus is capable of carrying out a military operation in the region but “this issue should be resolved along with political aspects.” “Iran’s role is also important because this hotspot of tension is not in Tehran’s interest,” Dolgov said, adding that “these armed units have also been fighting with each other.”
Terrorists in Idlib
The Idlib province was seized by militants from the Jabhat al-Nusra terror group (outlawed in Russia) in 2015. According to reconciliation agreements, members of militant units reluctant to surrender to the Syrian government forces in the Aleppo and Homs provinces, as well as in Eastern Ghouta, were allowed to move to Idlib. Militants from the southern Syrian provinces of Daraa and Quneitra are also now moving to the region.
In 2017, the Idlib province was included in the northern de-escalation zone controlled by Turkey, which is one of the ceasefire guarantors together with Russia and Iran.
A new international meeting on Syria, involving participants in the Astana process, is scheduled to take place in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on July 30-31.