A number of residents of Idleb province in northern Syria expressed their relief following the conclusion of the summit that brought together Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Russian city of Sochi, and which resulted in agreement on some points regarding Idleb’s residents, in what has become known as the “buffer zone” agreement.
The agreement stipulates that the opposition and the regime will withdraw heavy weapons from the line of contact and all military operations against the province will be halted. There will be a guarantee that the regime will not advance into any new territory under opposition control.
Residents in Idleb expressed their relief at the results of the summit and their support for its decisions, however some of them expressed fears about the Russians and their ability to keep their promises. They justified this view by citing what has occurred in other Syrian areas throughout the war.
Khaled al-Merai told Alsouria Net that if the agreement was implemented Idleb residents would feel safe and comfortable and displaced people would return to their homes after the cessation of aerial and artillery bombardments. “However, until freedom is won, we need to keep up our main, basic demand, which is the downfall of the regime,” he said.
Asa’ad Hajj Nasan said: “The agreement has some positive elements, especially since it succeeded in preserving civilian lives and halting the waterfall of blood in Idleb, as well as securing some protection for the peaceful demonstrators who have begun to establish the nucleus of a new revolution, correcting its course and keeping it far from bloodshed.”
Journalist Ahmed Rihal told Alsouria Net that despite the fact that the agreement gave hope of a stable life free of bombardment and massacres, “I do not see any of the gains of the Syrian revolution, but Idleb has grieved this as have the displaced people there. Our main demand, and the only solution, is that Syria be free of the Assad regime and all displaced people return to their homes.”
He added: “With regard to the establishing of a buffer zone between the liberated areas and those occupied by the regime, I do not see anything in this except the halting of liberation operations, and it may be a trick to enable the Assad regime to attack and take control of this area, which includes the coastal mountains and the al-Ghab Plains, as well as the northern Hama countryside, the eastern Idleb countries, and parts of the Aleppo countryside. We have never seen the regime keep a pact or treaty.”
Halim al-Araby, an Idleb resident, told Alsouria Net: “The agreement comes at an appropriate time after the mobilization of regime media and militias under the authority of Russia and Iran, permeated with some air and artillery bombardment. It came at a time when the opposition and the revolution’s leaders need to carry out some fateful reviews regarding Idleb, the last stronghold of the revolution, and Syria generally.”
Alsouria Net also contacted the official spokesman of the National Front for Liberation, Captain Naji Mustafa, to ask about the agreement. He preferred not to give any comment until the picture was clarified and they had obtained detailed and precise information about the agreement.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.