The fighting came to a halt soon after the two powers signed a ceasefire deal in Moscow, but what are its key takeaways?

It was an intense negotiation, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke to the media along with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan soon after the two leaders came out of a meeting over the future of Idlib in northwestern Syria. 

Both sides signed a protocol that includes three articles: i) establishing a ceasefire in Idlib at 21GMT on March 6; ii) a security corridor of about six kilometres deep to the north and to the south from the M4 highway; iii) a joint Turkish-Russian patrols from March 15 to man the M4 highway from the settlement of Trumba — two kilometres to the west of Saraqib and to the settlement of Ain-Al-Havr.

“The specific parameters of the functioning of the security corridor will be agreed between the defense ministries of Turkey and Russia within seven days,” the protocol noted. 

Turkey and Russia will be guarantor countries to observe the ceasefire in Syria, as per the agreement, and they will recall the memorandum on the creation of de‑escalation areas in Syria as of May 4, 2017, and the memorandum on the stabilisation of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area as of Sept. 17, 2018.

The two countries reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria.

The protocol highlighted that there can be "no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it can only be resolved through the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, and UN-facilitated political process in line with the UNSC resolution 2254."

The importance of the agreement

Speaking to TRT World in light of the ceasefire agreement, security analyst Abdullah Agar said: “The worst deal is better than a possible war.”

The agreement, according to Agar, will thwart some impending dangers in the region such as the spreading of the conflict to larger areas and more civilian casualties.

 Before the agreement, Agar said there was an extremely dangerous risk of a linear war between Turkey and both with Russia and Iran.

Agar said apart from the positive aspects of the agreement, which would favour Turkey in the short run, there are some risks too, such as provocations from radical elements.

Omer Ozkizilcik, an analyst for the SETA Foundation, said one of Turkey's main concerns all along the Syrian conflict has been the protection of civilians and the newest agreement is aimed at addressing the loss of innocent lives. 

“The current agreement is crucial for the protection of civilians and stopping the drama, but the agreement has some vulnerabilities,” he said.

“The security corridor planned to be established in the south and north of the M4 highway is necessary for the use of the road by civilians and for Russian and Turkish soldiers to patrol safely.”

Ozkizlicik draws attention to the "radical elements" that create concern for the security corridor. “In the future, Russia may use them [radical elements] as an excuse and cause a humanitarian crisis again,” he said. 

Agar echoed a similar sentiment saying that “some extremist organisations are likely to resist, and it will be a troubling process to clean up the area of them”.

He added: “It is an important step that helps us achieve some peace, but not a step that has achieved lasting peace.”

Ozkizilcik said Turkey should be supported by the world for the protection of civilians, and Ankara must also maintain field dominance in the de-facto safe zone.

“In short, the Idlib problem is not over with this deal,” he said.

Source: TRT World