Putin and Erdogan are meeting in Sochi today to discuss a solution to the situation in Idlib. I don’t think an official statement has been released yet, but I did find a couple of articles in Al Masdar News discussing possible outcomes. The official joint statements should come out shortly. We’ll see whether these prognostications bear out.
The terrorists in the Syrian Idlib province are likely to be moved to the Jisr al-Shughur in order to reduce casualties among the civilians, representative of Astana opposition platform Mahmoud Afandi told Sputnik Monday. “Most likely, all terrorists will be moved to one area – Jisr al-Shughur. This place already now has almost no civilians,” Afandi said. The opposition member noted that the main issue would be how to remove terrorists from the city of Idlib.
The opposition representative also noted that Ankara was trying to make moderate opposition fight against terrorists in the region. “Erdogan has the intention of reconciliation. Already now Turkey is actively influencing armed groups on the ground in Idlib to make them reconcile and agree to fight against Nusra terrorists with the government, having Russia as the guarantor of their survival,” Afandi said.
He expressed hope that the situation in the province would be the same as it was in Daraa. “Russian military police would monitor Idlib and guarantee that the government does not attack the military groups who decided to surrender, while these military groups take the side of the fight against terrorism. The situation will be similar to that of Daraa,” Afandi added.
The Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria is under the responsibility of Turkey as a guarantor state, and Russia expects Ankara to facilitate the difficult process of separating moderate opposition groups from terrorists in the area, Russian special presidential envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev announced last week in Geneva after the guarantors’ meeting.
“Armed opposition groups in Idlib have only one condition – to prevent any Iranian presence in Idlib. This condition will be voiced by Erdogan to Putin,” Afandi said in the wake of the meeting between Russian and Turkish presidents in Sochi. Last week, Lavrentyev said that terrorists’ surrender would be the best option for solving the situation in the Idlib province, in order to prevent casualties among civilians. (Al Masdar News)
If I was a jihadi in Idlib, I would not willingly leave that area for the potential killing fields of Jisr al-Shughur. I would have to be forced out or bribed out. And that bribe better be a lot more than 72 virgins and a promise that the Iranians will stay out of Idlib. That must be some heavy palavering going on in Sochi.
In other news, the Russian Reconciliation Center has convinced the Quraytayn Martyrs Brigade to leave the Al Tanf region for the Turkish held area north of Aleppo. They will take their families from the Rukban Refugee Camp along with their remaining vehicles and weapons. This will leave only one jihadi group remaining in the US controlled Al Tanf region.