October 15, 2018

Fate of Syria's Idlib uncertain as extremist group fails to withdraw from proposed buffer zone

Featuring Nicholas Heras

Source: The Independent

Journalist Richard Hall

The fate of a deal between Russia and Turkey to avoid a Syrian government offensive in Idlib was uncertain on Monday, after Damascus suggested rebel groups were not fully complying with the terms.

As part of the agreement brokered last month, “radical” fighters were supposed to withdraw from frontlines by midnight on Sunday, allowing for the creation of a demilitarised zone that would be patrolled by Russian and Turkish forces.

But that deadline passed without any major movement of fighters from the proposed buffer zone, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor.

The development threatens to undermine a deal that was widely credited with averting a humanitarian disaster for the estimated three million civilians of Idlib.

Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, said that he would wait for Russia’s response, but again raised the prospect of an offensive.

"Our armed forces are ready around Idlib to eradicate terrorism if the Idlib agreement is not implemented," he said Monday.

"Idlib, as any other province, has to return to Syrian sovereignty. We prefer to have it through peaceful means, through reconciliation, but if not there are other options."

Read the full article and more at The Independent.

  • Nicholas Heras

    Fellow, Middle East Security Program

    Nicholas A. Heras is a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), working in the Middle East Security Program. He is also a Senior Analyst at the Jamestown Found...