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Idlib Ceasefire Slowly, But Surely, Moving Towards Its Collapse

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Idlib Ceasefire Slowly, But Surely, Moving Towards Its Collapse

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The ceasefire in Idlib began on 00:01 on March 6th, and its effectiveness is questionable at best.

Since then, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria has provided daily reports, over the last four days (the day of negotiations March 5th, plus the three days which have been effectively under the ceasefire) for which there are reports it has claimed the following.

It should be noted that the center provides accounts of what Russia recorded, and what Turkey recorded, and the discrepancies will also be presented below:

  • On March 5th, the Russian side recorded 58 violations: 15 in Latakia, 30 in Idlib, 12 in Aleppo and 1 in Hama; the Turkish side recorded 39 – 29 in Idlib and 10 in Aleppo;
  • On March 6th, the Russian side recorded 35 violations: 11 in Latakia, 20 in Idlib, 3 in Aleppo and 1 in Hama; the Turkish side recorded 39 – 15 in Idlib and 4 in Aleppo;
  • On March 7th, the Russian side recorded 19 violations: 7 in Latakia, 3 in Idlib, 9 in Aleppo; the Turkish side somehow recorded only 1 violation in Idlib;
  • On March 8th, the Russian side recorded 8 violations: 4 in Latakia, 1 in Idlib, 3 in Aleppo; the Turkish side recorded no violations at all.

Thus, according to the Turkish observation, the ceasefire is actually working splendidly, according to the Russian reporting it has some progress, but, clearly, not entirely without issue.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara will proceed to unilateral actions in Syrian Idlib if the agreement with Russia is not respected.

“We concluded an agreement (with Russia) to resolve the crisis in Idlib without further bloodshed. Otherwise, we will continue to follow the path that we have decided for ourselves,” Erdogan said.

In addition to the ceasefire, Moscow and Ankara are organizing a safety corridor along the M-4 highway six kilometers north and south of it, and joint patrolling will begin in the area on March 15th.

Russia and Turkey also reaffirmed their commitment to previously concluded agreements – on the creation of de-escalation zones from 2017 and the Sochi memorandum of 2018.

Russia and Turkey agreed on a ceasefire for Syria, but the agreement failed to get the backing of the UN Security Council on March 6th. A ceasefire endorsement proposed by Russia was rejected when the United States, which is one of the five countries with veto power on the Council.

Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, had asked the other 14 Security Council members to adopt the agreement, but the United States rejected it saying it and called the deal “premature.” Some European nations welcomed the proposal but wanted to amend the statement.

However, US State department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said that it wasn’t Washington that blocked the UNSC resolution.

Meanwhile, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the premier terrorist group in Idlib, categorically rejected the Ankara-Moscow agreement.

“The recent agreement signed in Moscow concerning the ceasefire is nothing new from its predecessor agreements, and its days will not pass until there is another betrayal against the revolution, and that is principally because the Russian occupier is expending its political and military effort to enable the criminal regime to occupy the areas again and displace their people and destroy their infrastructure and educational institutions.

This agreement is marred by obscurity and floating platitudes that allow for the Russian occupier to make use of it for new aggression. Likewise in it are clauses that cannot be applied at all, and are also to be considered a degradation and humiliation against the blood of the martyrs and the sacrifices of ten continual years, like allowing the Russian occupier to gain control over liberated areas peacefully without war and fighting,” the statement read.

Thus, the entire situation appears to be moving towards another failure of the ceasefire, as was generally expected, since the buffer zone cannot be created – Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham will oppose and fight against it, then safe patrols cannot be conducted.

At the same time, this is also shown in Erdogan’s renewed threats of war, and the continuing ceasefire violations registered by the Russian reconciliation center.

The safety corridor also passes through Jisr al-Shughur, which is a al-Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party stronghold, which will also fight against its establishment.

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