The Syrian civil war has always had great potential to worsen any day. Since May 2019, the Bashar Assad regime has been pummeling the Syrian opposition's last holdout in the northwestern province of Idlib. The potential for a worsening crisis reared its head when the regime attacked Turkish forces, killing seven Turkish soldiers and a Turkish military staff person. This undeclared war of sorts stopped short of heating up and instead shifted into a diplomatic row between the two guarantors of the Sochi agreement, Turkey and Russia. Ankara's retaliation for the Assad regime's attack, including "neutralizing" 76 regime soldiers, and regime forces entering into Saraqib, threatening more Turkish observatory posts, will no doubt spark a new phase of hostilities in Idlib.
Turkey and Russia agreed in late 2017 to work together to address the intensifying humanitarian crisis in Syria. As part of their cooperation, Russian and Turkish troops would enforce new demilitarized zones in Idlib in northwest Syria, Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta and Douma. Soon after the cooperation agreement, Syrian regime forces recaptured almost all of these areas with the exception of Idlib.
A subsequent agreement in September 2018 in Sochi, Russia, marked the greatest success of Russia and Turkey's cooperation in Syria. The Sochi agreement established a cease-fire and a buffer zone. Those achievements held until recently, when the Syrian regime, buoyed by Russian support and military victory in other parts of Syria, began unscrupulously violating the agreement.
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