Russia and Turkey agreed to conduct joint patrols around the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib during the 12th round of the Astana Process, Ayman al-Asami, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition delegation to the talks told Enab Baladi on April 28.
“A decision taken in the talks to stop the shelling of Idlib. This will be preceded by the conduct of joint Russian-Turkish patrols on the frontlines in early May,” al-Asami said.
The opposition spokesman added that the situation in Idlib was extensively discussed during the recent round of the Astana Process, which was held on April 25 and 26. The talks were attended by e United Nations Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen.
Idlib is currently controlled by several terrorist group led by the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). In the last few days, the terrorists launched two attacks on the Russia Hmeimim airbase on the Syrian coast, provoking a new round of escalation.
The reports of Russian-Turkish patrols around Idlib are not new. Last month, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Vershinin, announced that joint patrols will be conducted soon within the devitalized zone around the governorate. However, this is yet to happen.
In the final statement of Astana’s 12th round, Russia, Turkey and Iran announced that they had agreed to new measures to implement the demilitarized zone agreement on Idlib. The joint patrols were likely one one of these measures.
Despite the al-Asami confirmation, there is a good chance that the terrorist groups in Idlib wouldn’t allow such joint patrols. Hardcore terrorists may even attempt to target the patrols in order to further escalate the situation around Idlib.