On Wednesday, several sources said that Russia, Turkey and Iran are about to reach a de-escalation agreement in Idlib province. It’s expected that the agreement will be agreed upon in Astana talks on Thursday.
However, sources from Astana said that many issues related to the supposed agreement were still un-solved.
Forces from Russia, Turkey and Iran will monitor the de-escalation zone in Idlib province, according to a report of the Russian state-run media outlet RT. Moreover, RT said that Egypt was intested in monitoring the de-escalation zone in Idlib too.
Meanwhile, the UK-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper claimed that Russia, Turkey and Iran are about to launch a military operation against Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Idlib. Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups will be the main force on the ground in the spouse operation, and it will be backed by the Russian and Turkish Air Forces, according to the report.
The newspaper claimed that the operation is a part of the de-escalation agreement. The Idlib de-escalation agreement and the military operation will be agreed upon in Astana talks on Thursday, according to it.
In a related development, Syrian opposition sources said that Russian military units were deployed in Taybat al-Imam and Mahardah towns in the northern Hama countryside. Furthermore, opposition sources claimed that the Russian military established an observation center in Mahardah town.
Syrian opposition activists believe that the Russian deployment is part of the upcoming de-escalation agreement in the province. Some activist even believe that the Asharq al-Awsat report is true and these units will be part of the upcoming anti-HTS operation in Idlib.
It’s very unlikely that HTS would approve any peaceful agreement that reduces its influence in its heartland – Idlib. In this case Russia, Turkey and Iran will have to enforce their agreement on the ground, indeed.