Home News Analysis Targeting civilians in Idlib can end Astana Accord: Erdogan tells Putin

Targeting civilians in Idlib can end Astana Accord: Erdogan tells Putin

Idlib
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News Analysis |

Syrian forces have been able to regain almost the entire territory lost to rebels and ISIS during the civil war. The last stronghold areas of rebels in Deraa province were recaptured and Syrian flag was hoisted on Thursday. But there have been reports of maltreatment of civilians living in these areas by Syrian forces. They are subjected to physical and mental torture based on the supposition that they had been the rebel sympathizers all along.

Before and during the operation, scores of Syrian families living in Deraa province moved toward Jordan because of the fear of persecution when the province would fall to government forces. President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to remind him of the accord signed between Turkey, Syria, and Russia last year. Idlib is practically the last known stronghold of anti-government rebels.

Western powers and some Arab states believe the Sochi talks are an attempt by Russia to create a separate peace process that undermines the U.N. peace effort while laying the groundwork for a solution favorable to President Bashar al-Assad and allies Russia and Iran.

The post-victory treatment of civilians in Deraa has left Erdogan worried about Idlib, where the rebels have been Turkey’s proxy to contain Kurdish threat for them. Syrian Peace Process was an initiative to look for a peaceful resolution of chaos which started in 2011. Arab League, UN special envoy for Syria, Russia along with Turkey and other western countries acted as the moderator of the process.

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The conflict was no longer an internal issue of Syrian as it has spread well across the border and its impact was felt by countries like Germany and Finland in the form of waves of immigrants. Therefore, for the best interest of everyone, especially countries in the vicinity of Syria, the peace process was started. After a series of talks in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, an agreement was reached between Turkey, Russia and Syria in 2017.

The three Syrian ceasefire guarantor states — Russia, Turkey and Iran — have made a breakthrough in reducing violence in Syria by reaching an agreement on all four de-escalation zones, including the one in the Idlib province. The sides also agreed that monitoring in the de-escalation zone in Idlib would be carried out by Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces, while the remaining zones would be maintained by Russian military police.

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to remind him of the accord signed between Turkey, Syria, and Russia last year. Idlib is practically the last known stronghold of anti-government rebels.

In his conversation with Vladimir province, President Erdogan expressed reservations over the way Syrian forces were treating the civilians in Deraa. He stressed that for the long-term security of the region, it is very important that peace process should be given fair chance by all the stakeholders who have agreed to Astana accord. “President Erdogan stressed that the targeting of civilians in Deraa was worrying and said that if the Damascus regime targeted Idlib in the same way the essence of the Astana accord could be completely destroyed,” the source said.

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Turkey has established military and observatory posts in Idlib to keep a check on YPG or People Protection Group of Kurdish militants. Turkey has always deemed YPG as a threat to its internal security. Since the Kurd YPG group had been used as a proxy by the United States of America to fight the ISIS inside Syria, Turkey decided to use the Syrian rebels as their stretch to curb the threat.

At the start of 2018, Turkey deployed its forces with armor and artillery into the Afrin region of Syria controlled by Kurds. Now that Idlib remains the only stronghold of rebels, Turkey is looking for a safe passage of these fighters who have been a loyal proxy all along fighting Turkey’s war. Russia, Turkey, and Syria are going to hold peace talks in Sochi on 30-31 July but the rebels had announced that they will be boycotting as the talks as Russia is the host.

Western powers and some Arab states believe the Sochi talks are an attempt by Russia to create a separate peace process that undermines the U.N. peace effort while laying the groundwork for a solution favorable to President Bashar al-Assad and allies Russia and Iran. Turkey, however, is still hopeful that rebel can change their mind and still be the part of the conference provided they are shown encouragement in the form of confidence-building measures.


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