The military operation will not take place in Idlib
Today, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu signed with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar a Memorandum of Understanding on Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib’s De-escalation Zone. The head of the Russian military department assured that there would be no new military operation in the Syrian province. The Sochi negotiations were preceded by the tense meetings on the inter-Syrian settlement in Astana, Istanbul, and Tehran.
As Al-Jazeera writes in the article Erdogan, Putin to hold talks in Sochi over Idlib situation, Syrian government has recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive on Idlib province, long controlled by various armed opposition groups and their last bastion in the war-torn country. Russia and Iran, who back the Syrian government, want to eliminate what they call "terrorist groups" in the province, which neighbours Turkey. Ankara wants a stable ceasefire in the region to disarm these groups while keeping the peace in Idlib.
The UN warns that a full offensive on Idlib would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".
On Sunday, Erdogan said that he expected his meeting with Putin to have positive outcomes in order to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in Idlib.
"The outcome of our meeting with Putin will be important. I also have visits to the United Nations General Assembly and Germany towards the end of the month. It is my wish that, with positive decisions made at these meetings, we will carry out the situation [in Idlib] to a new level. If the situation in Idlib continues as is, the results will be heavy,'' said Erdogan.
On Friday, a meeting of the assistants to the leaders of Russia, Germany, Turkey and France dedicated to Syria was held in Istanbul. Yury Ushakov, the presidential aide, Ibrahim Kalin, the official representative of the Turkish president, Philippe Etienne, the adviser to the French president, and Jan Hecker, the foreign policy adviser to the German Chancellor, participated in the negotiations. They agreed that any attack on Syria's rebel-held Idlib would have severe results and a political solution must be reached.
Meanwhile, the head of the Duma International Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, called Idlib "a black hole”. ”We understand the baselessness of accusations of using chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s regime. The Assad regime does not have chemical weapons, especially in Idlib. the most complex zone of de-escalation in the history of the Syrian conflict and the last stronghold of the large-scale terrorist forces. But this does not stop Americans. There was Vietnam in1968. In 2003, Colin Powell shook some sort of a test tube, after which the US invasion began in Iraq. They made Iraq a country without a state and shamefacedly confessed to the world that they did not find any chemical weapons, but the regime was destroyed and the Iraqi leader was executed. The same thing is happening now in Syria. The provocations over chemical weapons are used by Washington for 50 years.’’
Slutsky promised to inform about this at all possible international venues: "If we go to Syria in this parliamentary semester, then, like a year ago, we will invite representatives of parliaments of different countries and interparliamentary structures to see what the ceasefire regime is , what is the reconciliation of the warring parties and what are its mechanisms. In all that concerns Idlib, possible provocations with chemical weapons can not be ruled out. But the main thing (coordinated, including between Moscow and Ankara) is the action of the anti-terror armed forces in order to oust the international terrorist groups from the provinces. I dare to assume from our previous experience in Syria that this will happen in the remaining months of this year."