Earlier this week I wrote that it was time to bring troops home from Syria, and that Idlib, Syria is not America’s concern. As if in response, Russia and Turkey have signed their own deal on the fate of Idlib. Without excessive American intervention, the situation is sorting itself out. The deal should prevent Syria from attacking the city and creating a major displacement. Of course, that is only for as long as both sides honor the agreement. Reuters reports (abridged):
Syrian opposition officials praised a deal between Russia and Turkey over Idlib province on Tuesday, saying it had spared the rebel-held region a bloody government offensive and would thwart President Bashar al-Assad’s aim of recovering all Syria.
Damascus, while welcoming the agreement unveiled on Monday, vowed to press on with its campaign to recover “every inch” of the country. Its ambassador to Lebanon said the deal would test Turkey’s ability to deliver on promises to disarm rebels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad’s most powerful ally, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed at a summit on Monday to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib from which “radical” rebels must withdraw by the middle of next month.
The agreement has diminished the prospects of a Syrian government offensive which the United Nations warned would create a humanitarian catastrophe in the Idlib region, home to about three million people.
Putin said that by Oct. 10, all opposition heavy weapons, mortars, tanks, rocket systems would be removed from the demilitarized zone, and said this was Erdogan’s suggestion.
Idlib is held by an array of rebels. The most powerful is Tahrir al-Sham, an amalgamation of Islamist groups dominated by the former Nusra Front – an al Qaeda affiliate until 2016.
Other Islamists, and groups fighting as the Free Syrian Army banner, are now gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation”.
Read more here.