The Idlib de-escalation agreement continues to shrink under pressure from an increasing number of ceasefire violations by militant groups operating in the area. Earlier, Russia and Turkey reached an agreement to launch patrols in the de-miltiarized zone to put an end to these violations, but this has not been done yet.
A new agreement between Russia and Turkey on the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib comes in continuation of the bilateral memorandum signed in September 2018, Russian Deputy Foreign Minsiter Sergei Vershinin said on March 14.
“The new agreement comes in continuation of the Russian-Turkish cooperation based on provisions of the 2018 memorandum,” he said, answering to a question by TASS reporter. “Those provisions envisage, among other things, joint Russian-Turkish patrols, disengagement lines and also include the creation of a joint coordination center. Their implementation is now under way.”
The diplomat said that Russian and Turkish forces will patrol the demilitarized area.
“In other words, there will be unilateral patrols by, say, the Turkish side, followed by Russian patrols, and then by joint patrols. Those patrols have already begun and they will continue,” he revealed adding that this is a very “complicated process”.
“At the moment, it would be correct to say that many thousands of militants, jihadists, including foreign terrorists, have gathered in Idlib. This [patrolling missions] is a very delicate and serious process and, naturally, we cannot afford putting at risk Russian servicemen who would be fulfilling this task,” he said.
A brief overivew of the recent developments in the Afrin region and the Idlib de-escalation zone:
- Clashes were reported near Maghair;
- Pro-militant sources accuse the Syrian Army of shelling Kafranbel and nearby positions;
- The Turkish army continued its patrols in the de-militarized zone in western Aleppo and southern Idlib;
- A new group of Turkish soldiers and vehicles entered Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing;
- Kurdish rebels targeted Trukish-backed militants with an ATGM in Afrin. 1 person was killed, 2 were injured.
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