Turkey and Russia reach a new ceasefire deal for Syria’s Idlib

Turkish and Russian leader shake hands in Moscow after announcing new ceasefire in Idlib Turkish and Russian leader shake hands in Moscow after announcing new ceasefire in Idlib Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

6 March 2020

Erdogan and Putin meet in Moscow to discuss the latest violence in northwest Syria and agree on a ceasefire

On March 5, during a long meeting in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a new ceasefire deal was agreed for Syria’s Idlib. The meeting was conveyed to discuss a way forward to stop conflict in the region, after the spark in violence seen in northwest Syria since December 2019.  In three months, nearly one million people have been displaced by the violence and more than 300 civilians were killed, including 100 children – it may be the worst humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the nine-year war according to the United Nations (UN). Ahead of the talks, at least 16 civilians were killed when Russian airstrikes hit the town of Maarat Misrin.

The two leaders support opposing factions in the conflict, with Russia backing al-Assad’s regime and Turkey supporting some rebel groups in the attempt to protect its southern borders. Idlib is Syria’s last rebel stronghold and it was defined as a demilitarized zone in the 2018 Sochi agreement, with both Russia and Turkey in charge of monitoring the situation with observation posts in the region. This deal was broken when Assad, backed by Russian forces, started a military operation in the area in December 2019, killing at least 60 Turkish soldiers and many civilians. Turkey responded with its first direct offense against Assad’s regime shooting down Syrian jets and openly targeting Syrian positions and convoys with drones.

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this Thursday said he hoped the ceasefire agreement between Russia and Turkey would represent a first step towards “an immediate and lasting cessation” of violence. It is not yet clear what will be the implications of the ceasefire on the issue of the refugee crisis along the Greek-Turkish border triggered by Turkish move to open its borders to migrants wanting to cross into the European Union.


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Author: Annette Savoca

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