MOSCOW (AP) – The russian and Turkish presidents have agreed on a ceasefire that is due to begin at midnight Thursday in northwestern Syria, where escalating fighting threatened to bring troops from both countries into a direct conflict. However, it is unlikely that the agreement will put an end to the terrible suffering of the region. Both countries have many interests beyond Syria – from the conflict in Libya, where they support the opposing parties, to a recently opened pipeline from Russia to Turkey, to arms trafficking. They are therefore ready to negotiate and could one day reach a lasting agreement. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is standing alongside his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, said he hoped their deal would lead to a halt to military action in Syria`s last major rebel stronghold in the northwest of the country. At the start of the more than six-hour Kremlin talks, the two heads of state and government stressed the need for an agreement. One of the objectives was to prevent their bilateral relations and prosperous trade from harming. The latest Turkish-Russian agreement reached on 5 March in Moscow by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will be no exception. Although the agreement succeeded in ending the fighting and giving respite to the three million Syrians living in the province, most of them were driven out several times, it did not find a stable solution that would prevent a new military offensive by the Syrian regime and its allies on the last stronghold of the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition. Some experts doubt that this agreement is different from the agreements between Ankara and Moscow on Idlib, which have not been successful. “I hope that these agreements will serve as the basis for stopping military activities in the Idlib de-escalation zone (and) will put an end to the suffering of peaceful populations and the growing humanitarian crisis,” Putin said. Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert at the Washington Institute, said the agreement “freezes the conflict on the ground.” Under the agreement, Turkey was required to withdraw all extremist groups from the province, some of which are allied with the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
In September 2018, Russia and Turkey agreed on an agreement that had postponed a planned Syrian regime offensive on Idlib and other areas near the Turkish border. While the ceasefire agreement would largely halt fighting in Idlib, Abdulrahman said, it could also allow Syrian government forces to maintain territorial gains made during the recent offensive. Moscow, for its part, said Turkey was violating the agreement by supporting “illegal armed groups” and accused Turkish forces of mingling with “terrorists” in Idlib. The three-point agreement, read by the foreign ministers of both countries, also provided for the creation of a 12 km “security corridor” along the country`s crucial M4 motorway, which Russian and Turkish forces would begin with patrols at the end of next week. The March 5 agreement is likely to follow the fate of all previous Idlib agreements and will soon disintegrate. At a joint press conference after the talks, Putin said the agreement would serve as a “good basis for ending the fighting” in Idlib and “ending the suffering of the civilian population.” “The solution in Idlib is for the (Syrian) regime to stop its hostility and withdraw to the borders in the agreements.