"The militant-held province of Idlib, mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), had been the main problem of the initiative since its official announcement in May. Now, it seems that the decision how to solve it was at least partly agreed.
The de-escalation zones are “a temporary measure which will initially last 6 months and will be automatically extended on the basis of guarantors’ consensus,” according to the statement.
The sides also introduced a joint Iranian-Russian-Turkish Coordination Center “to coordinate activities in the de-escalation areas.”
Eaerlier reports appeared that the sides agreed the borders of the zone in Idlib and were negotiating over which monitors will be deployed. The Turkish media pushed an idea that 25,000 members of the Turkish Army and Turkish-backed groups of the Free Syrian Army could be involved in the operation.
Meanwhile, the Russian military continued efforts to recinfile the warrying sides in Syria. 7 field commanders and over 1,000 militants have defected to the Syrian Army, the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria said on Thursday." SF
"The Russian newspaper Izvestia quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the Saudi authorities consider that the Syrian President Bashar Assad can play an important role in the political future of his country.
Sputnik news agency published the report and pointed out that Saudi political analysts see that President Assad can be a part of the ‘transitional government, noting that the regional states are no longer raising the issue of President Assad’s departure in the closed sessions and describing the Saudi stance as an unexpected change.
A diplomatic source maintained that the Saudi do realize that the balance of power imposes the reality of President Assad, adding that the KSA officials are obliged to accept this fact despite their intention to overthrow Syria leader whenever possible." AMN
The idea seems to be that the "protecting powers" will split off as much of the HTS coalition, leaving the hard core HTS (A–Qa'ida) isolated and vulnerable to a clean-up at some early date.
The end state difficulty (after six months?) will be to ensure that Turkey withdraws its troops to Turkish soil. Irredentist yearning for Ottoman lands still burns in the bosom of Sultan Tayyip. pl
If Saudi Arabia has accepted reality in Syria, wonders have not ceased upon the earth. They might even wise up about their losing war in Yemen. pl