According to some media sources, clashes between the Syrian Arab Army and anti-government forces are going on in Idlib Province. On the other hand, Turkey, a NATO partner country, claimed that Syrian government forces broken a ceasefire agreement. It also threatened to launch a military offensive in retaliation in Idlib Province.
Meanwhile, on 19 February 2020, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said, “The demilitarized zone at whole Idlib zone perimeter has not been created yet. In addition, we see the continuation of shellfire from the de-escalation zone on Syrian Army positions, civilian assets as well as attempts to attack Russia’s Hmeimim Base.”
It is clear that Russia is dissatisfied with the implementation of the Sochi agreement with Turkey on creating a demilitarized zone in Idlib. Turkish President Erdogan recently said that Russia-Turkey talks on Syria’s Idlib have not been conducive to bringing about the desired result.
Erdogan said, “Turkey has made all necessary preparations to kick off an operation in Idlib. As in the case with any other operation, we say: ‘we could come at night at any moment’. In other words, the Idlib offensive could begin at any time.”
The fissure between Turkey and Russia is increasing over Syrian war though Ankara and Moscow have been engaged to diplomatically solve the issue upholding the Sochi agreement. It is expected that presidential interference of both parties will extinguish the geostrategic fire between Russia and Turkey.
Turkey, Iran and Russia created four de-escalation zones in Syria during their Astana talks in Kazakhstan’s capital in 2017. The Syrian government controls three out of four zones. However, Damascus does not exercise control over the fourth zone, located in Idlib Province and a portion of Latakia, Hama, and Aleppo provinces. There was an agreement between Russia and Turkey in September 2018, where both parties agreed to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib.