The ceasefire agreement negotiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan has successfully ended the fighting between the Syrian forces and militants entrenched in Idlib the next day after being signed.
The accord also finally ensured proper measures to open and guard the M4 highway, which was supposed to happen back when the 2018 Sochi agreements were signed. The highway is crucial for enabling trade and other economic activities in Syria, but it was controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham* terrorists.
At the same time, the new agreement, signed in Moscow, essentially secured the status-quo that was achieved by the Syrian Army in recent months in the course of the "Idlib Dawn" offensive, former Russian serviceman and the chief editor of the "Fatherland's Arsenal" journal, Victor Murakhovsky, says. He adds, however, that the accord is rather fragile.
Terrorist Groups' Issues
During the presser dedicated to the new ceasefire agreement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that his country's troops reserve the right to respond to" any hostile actions" of the Syrian Army. In this case, the ceasefire could be violated if Damascus retaliates against terrorists attacking its positions.
At the same time, it's unclear just how well Idlib terrorist groups such as Tahrir al-Sham* will adhere to the ceasefire and how much control Turkey has over them, Murakhovsky says. He wondered what will happen with the ceasefire regime if Tahrir al-Sham* chooses to shell Syrian Army positions.
"The situation is akin to a performance of a man who juggles maces while balancing on a rubber ball. A slightest mistake can lead to a disaster", Murakhovsky summarised, while adding that both the Moscow and Sochi agreements have a lot of "grey", unregulated or unspecified areas.
Orhan Gafarli, a Turkey expert from the Ankara Policy Centre, believes that in order to prevent another escalation and preserve the Moscow agreement, members of the Astana format, Russia, Turkey and Iran, must engage in discussions on fighting terrorists in Syria.
"Terrorists are the key problem of the region. Sides must agree on how they combat militants in Idlib. Otherwise [Syrian President Bashar] Assad might use lack of Turkey's activities to fight them as a pre-text [to restart the offensive]", Gafarli says.
*Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (also known as Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or al-Qaeda in Syria) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.