On October 18, U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland revealed that Russia and Turkey will give more time for the implementation of their deconflication agreement on Idlib. Egeland said that the step is a “great relief” for 3 million civilians in the northern Syrian governorate.
“I was heartened to hear both Russia and Turkey say they are optimistic, they can achieve much more through negotiations, and they are generally very positive on the implementation of this deal which is giving a relief, a pause in fighting, to Idlib,” Egeland told reporters, according to the Reuters news agency.
Despite of his optimism about the deconflication agreement, Egeland said that there are “a million unanswered questions” about how the agreement would work, especially if radical groups refused to obey it.
Under the agreement, which was reached on September 17, a 15-20km demilitarized zone was established around Idlib. While Turkish-backed groups withdrew all of their heavy weapons from the zone, radical militants are yet to respect the agreement.
“Not all the heavy weapons have been withdrawn, not all the militants have left the territory, but Turkish partners are doing everything to fulfill their obligations,” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said commenting on the issue during the Valdai International Discussion, according to the Anadolu Agency.
Putin’s remarks reflect a lot of trust in Turkey, which is currently working not only to establish the demilitarized zone, but also to dissolve key radical groups such as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). These complicated tasks may indeed take months to complete.