Turkey and Russia came up with a new formula to ease the tension in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, in which the two countries are planning to conduct joint patrols.
According to the formula, at first Turkey and Russia will do independent, coordinated patrols. Then, the two countries are expected to conduct joints patrols. However, the details regarding the issue are still not clear.
Following their meeting in Russia's Sochi last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said there can be joint operations at any minute if needed. "There is no obstacle for that. Our measures right now are to provide peace, happiness and welfare to the people of Idlib," he said.
The Sochi agreement was reached on Sept. 17 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. According to the agreement, the cease-fire in the Idlib region will be preserved, with the withdrawal of heavy arms and radicals from the region. Prior to the agreement, the Bashar Assad regime was signaling a grand operation on Idlib, which is the last stronghold of the opposition, sparking deep fears in the international community of a new humanitarian crisis. As Turkey and Russia stepped in and averted a possible disaster, the Sochi deal was internationally welcomed. In relation to the implementation of the agreement, Turkish and Russian officials have been taking positive stances, stressing that the process has been continuing in line with the deal.
Yet, the regime and its supporters have been attempting to violate the agreement. Since the Sochi agreement in September, more than three dozen civilians have lost their lives in attacks by the regime, with many others injured.
Yesterday, Syrian regime forces carried out yet another strike in the province, killing five and injuring 10, including children.
This new formula has attracted attention for its similarity to the Manbij road map that was agreed on with the U.S. back in June 2018. The deal envisages the withdrawal of the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), from the city and joint patrols conducted by the militaries of both countries. YPG forces first gained control of the city in 2016 with the help of U.S-led coalition forces. Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in Manbij on Nov. 1 as part of the Manbij agreement.