The Idlib Agreement Map: Understanding the De-Escalation Zone in Syria
The Idlib Agreement Map is a crucial tool for understanding the complex situation in Syria, particularly in the northwestern province of Idlib. The agreement, signed on September 17, 2018, between Turkey and Russia, established a de-escalation zone in Idlib, aimed at reducing the violence in the region and protecting the nearly three million civilians who call it home.
The map shows the boundaries of the de-escalation zone, which covers most of Idlib province and parts of neighboring Aleppo, Hama, and Latakia provinces. The zone is divided into three parts: a buffer zone along the frontlines between Syrian government forces and rebel groups, a “demilitarized” zone along the border with Turkey, and a corridor for humanitarian aid.
The buffer zone is a 15-20 km wide strip of land that separates Syrian government forces from rebel groups, including the extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly known as al-Qaeda in Syria. HTS controls much of Idlib province and has been designated a terrorist organization by several countries, including the United States.
The demilitarized zone is a 6 km wide strip of land along the border with Turkey that is free of heavy weapons, tanks, and missiles. This zone is patrolled by Turkish and Russian forces, who are responsible for ensuring that both sides adhere to the agreement.
The humanitarian corridor is a route that allows aid workers to deliver much-needed food, medicine, and supplies to the people of Idlib. The corridor runs from Aleppo province to Hama province, passing through the de-escalation zone.
While the Idlib Agreement Map may seem like a straightforward solution to the conflict in Syria, it has faced several challenges since its implementation. HTS has continued to carry out attacks on Syrian government forces, and the Syrian government has accused Turkey of not doing enough to separate moderate rebel groups from extremist ones.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of complexity to the situation in Idlib, as the province has limited medical facilities and resources to respond to the crisis.
Despite these challenges, the Idlib Agreement Map remains an important step towards de-escalating the violence in Syria and protecting civilians in the country`s last major rebel-held enclave. It serves as a testament to the power of diplomacy and cooperation between regional powers in resolving conflicts and promoting peace.