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Russia-Turkey agreements on Idlib allow Syria’s integrity to be preserved — expert

Monday’s talks between the Russian and Turkish presidents yielded an agreement to establish a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib

BEIRUT, September 19. /TASS/. Agreements that the Russian and Turkish Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reached in Sochi over Idlib "allowed preserving Syria’s territorial integrity and averting the West’s aggression," Nidal Sabi, a Lebanese political analyst, told TASS on Wednesday.

Sabi, who is said to be an expert in the Syria crisis, said that "the decision approved in Sochi to set up a demilitarized zone provides a chance to disarm the Ankara-backed illegal armed groups in northwest Syria without any fighting or losses."

The United States and its allies had earlier attempted to take a chance of confrontation between the Syrian army and armed groups near Idlib in order to "clash Russia and Turkey and to derail the Astana process launched in 2017."

"These attempts aimed at Syria’s breakup failed, whereas the most tangible result of the Russian and Turkish leaders’ new initiative has led to preservation of the country’s territorial integrity," Sabi said.

The political analyst believes that thanks to the agreements, Russia left the United States, the United Kingdom and France without any pretext for attacking Syria.

"The performance prepared with the White Helmets’ help, which was meant to fake a chemical weapons attack by the government forces during a planned military operation in Idlib, has turned out to be absolutely beside the point now," he said.

The Syrian government "merely benefits from the agreement on the Idlib demilitarized zone since it could restore direct communication among the three provinces of Latakia, Aleppo and Hama without a full-blown war," the expert said.

Besides, joint patrols by Turkish troops and Russian military police in the demilitarized area will allow the state bodies to restart work in that northwestern Syrian region.

"As far as the future of members of the moderate armed opposition is concerned, their status might be defined at the National Dialogue Congress which started in January in Sochi and has since become a key platform for the Syrians to work out a political solution," the Lebanese political analyst said.

Idlib demilitarized zone

Monday’s talks between the Russian and Turkish Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Russia’s Sochi yielded an agreement to establish a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib, along the contact line between government troops and the opposition by October 15. At Ankara’s initiative, it is planned to withdraw the opposition’s tanks, multiple missile launcher systems, artillery systems and mortars from this zone by October 10. Control in this zone will be exercised by mobile patrol groups of Turkish troops and unites of Russian military police.

Idlib is the only large region in Syria that is still controlled by illegal armed groups. In 2017, a northern de-escalation zone was established in Idlib to give shelter to militants and their families who are reluctant to voluntarily surrender arms.