The Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad announced a ceasefire in Idlib yesterday evening, following the 13th round of peace talks that took place in Nur-Sultan – previously Astana – in Kazakhstan yesterday.
The ceasefire was agreed upon under the condition that the opposition forces are “to retreat nearly 20 kilometres in depth from the line of the de-escalation zone of Idlib and to withdraw the heavy and medium weapons.”
Speaking to reporters after the talks, Russia’s special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev congratulated and welcomed the regime’s decision and the truce in Idlib. Chairman of the Supreme Assembly for Syrian Tribes and Clans Sheikh Rami Dosh said: “Syria belongs to everyone. It is sufficient for everyone. Separatist organisations cannot split this country.”
Dosh also commented on the crimes of the Kurdish militias and terror groups such as the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which operated within Turkey and is recognised as a terrorist group by the United States (US) and European Union (UN). He said that the Kurds in the region and in Syria had also suffered at the hands of the YPG, and the vice president of the National Council of Syrian Kurds (ENKS) Abdul Hakim Bashar said that Arab-Kurdish relations in the country had deteriorated as a result of the group’s actions.
Though the ceasefire has been announced, the main meeting of the peace talks is being held today with delegations from the Syrian regime and the opposition groups.
The talks in the Kazakh capital have been ongoing since January 2017, and have aimed to seek a solution to the conflict in Syria being fought between the regime and numerous opposition groups and militias, as well as clarifying the roles of the foreign actors involved in the civil war such as Turkey, Russia and the US.
Despite the ceasefire having been officially announced and recognised, there is still scepticism on whether the regime will abide by the deal due to the lack of reliability on the part of its military forces. Since October 2018 in particular, when an agreement was made to make the province of Idlib a de-escalation zone where Syrians fleeing from the war can take shelter, the regime – with the help of its ally Russia – has constantly broken the deal and every ceasefire that was made.
An all-out ground and air assault on Idlib was then initiated in early May this year by the regime and Russia, in order to recapture the last opposition-held stronghold, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians, the destruction of schools and hospitals, and the further displacement of around 450,000 Syrians from Idlib to Turkey.