Idlib Battle Threatens 'Astana Achievements'

Idlib Battle Threatens 'Astana Achievements'

Saturday, 13 January, 2018 - 07:30
Opposition fighters drive in the village of Fureiji near al-Tamanah, in Syria's northwestern rebel-held province of Idlib, as they continue to battle government forces on January 2, 2018 (AFP Photo/Omar Haj Kadour)
Beirut - Nazeer Rida
Recent military developments in Syria have threatened the achievements and agreements reached between Ankara and Moscow during the Astana talks.

The developments on Friday lead to several telephone calls between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Turkish counterpart to discuss the situation in the city of Idlib, previously proclaimed as a de-escalation zone.

While opposition factions, which attended the Astana talks, have decided to get involved in the Idlib battle, Basma Kodmani, a Syrian academic and former spokesperson of the Syrian National Council (SNC) warned on Friday that the Geneva operation and the de-escalation agreement “are currently more and more being violated and spoiled on the Syrian ground.”

Kodmani stressed the need to achieve an improvement in Geneva in order to extricate the settlement from its current stalemate.

For his part, a member of the Syrian National Coalition delegation to Astana, Yasser Farhan told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday: “We are keen to implement the Astana agreements because they protect civilians and prevent the regime and their allied Iranian militias from attacking residents in the de-escalation zones.”

He added that those agreements also prepare the grounds for a political transition in Syria and allow the opposition the right to counter any attack launched by the Syrian regime forces or their allies.

“When the opposition responded to a regime attack in the de-escalation zone, it was not breaching the agreement,” he said.

At the battlefield, hit-and-run fighting resumed in Syria after regime forces attacked the countryside of southern Idlib, 24 hours after ceasing their assaults on the area due to a counter-aggression launched by Syrian opposition factions last Wednesday.

Under a heavy Russian and Syrian airstrike cover, regime forces were capable to recuperate several villages in the area, before opposition factions launched a counter-attack and controlled five villages they had lost two days ago.

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