Turkey, Iran, Rus­sia to de­ploy ob­servers around Idlib

Arab News - - FRONT PAGE -

OANKARA/AS­TANA: Rus­sia, Iran and Turkey will post ob­servers on the edge of a de-es­ca­la­tion zone in north­ern Syria’s Idlib re­gion largely con­trolled by rad­i­cal mil­i­tants, the three na­tions said on Fri­day.

The move is part of a broader plan un­der which Moscow, Tehran and Ankara will set up four such zones in dif­fer­ent parts of Syria, an idea de­scribed by crit­ics as de facto par­ti­tion­ing of the war-torn na­tion.

While they hailed the agree­ment as a break­through af­ter months of talks, Moscow, Tehran and Ankara pro­vided very few de­tails and said some is­sues were still to be worked out.

They de­nied charges of aim­ing to par­ti­tion the coun­try, how­ever, say­ing the zones where they plan to de­ploy forces would be tem­po­rary, although they could be ex­tended be­yond an ini­tial six-month term.

Turkey’s For­eign Min­istry and Rus­sian and Ira­nian diplo­mats who at­tended tri­lat­eral talks in Kaza­khstan said on Fri­day their ob­servers would be sta­tioned in “safe zones” along the bor­der of the Idlib

Ode-es­ca­la­tion area. The Turk­ish min­istry said in a state­ment the ob­servers’ mis­sion will be to pre­vent clashes be­tween “the (Syr­ian) regime and the op­po­si­tion forces, and any vi­o­la­tions of the truce.”

Rus­sian ne­go­tia­tor Alexan­der Lavren­tyev said the trio will each send about 500 ob­servers to Idlib, and the Rus­sians will be mil­i­tary po­lice­men.

Idlib prov­ince, in north­west Syria on the bor­der with Turkey, is largely con­trolled by an op­po­si­tion al­liance spear­headed by the for­mer Al-Qaeda off­shoot Al-Nusra Front.

One an­a­lyst was un­sure how ef­fec­tive the deal would be.

“I’m not sure what this deal means in prac­tice or how or if it is go­ing to get im­ple­mented on the ground,” said Aron Lund, a Syria spe­cial­ist and fel­low at The Cen­tury Foun­da­tion.

“The ob­vi­ous stum­bling block is the fact that much of Idlib is un­der the con­trol of Tahrir Al-Sham, which is viewed in­ter­na­tion­ally as a ter­ror­ist group.”

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