Will the worst humanitarian disaster of the twenty-first century be avoided? Syria agreed Thursday, August 1, "under conditions" a ceasefire in the Idleb region. This northwestern city has been shelled since the end of April by the Damascus regime and its Russian ally.
"Of course, we welcome the decision of the Syrian government to establish a ceasefire," said Alexander Lavrentiev, the special envoy of Russia for Syria, quoted by Russian news agencies.
From Thursday evening
According to a soldier quoted by the official Sana news agency, Syria said it would accept "a ceasefire from Thursday night in Idleb, provided that the de-escalation agreement [concluded in September 2018 between Russia and Turkey, Ed] be applied ".
However, Alexander Lavrentiev expressed doubts about the jihadists' respect for the truce. "And it is unlikely that they will stop the provocations against the government forces, but if that happens, we will look at how the situation will evolve," he said.
Partially respected agreement
Target of a bombing campaign for three months by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, supported by Russian aviation, the province of Idleb and part of its neighbors Aleppo, Hama and Latakia are dominated by the jihadists of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, the former Syrian branch of Al Qaeda).
In September 2018, Ankara and Moscow had agreed to create a "demilitarized zone" at Idleb, which was to serve as a buffer between insurgent-controlled and regime-controlled territory. While the agreement has so far avoided a major offensive in Damascus, it is only partially respected, the jihadists having refused to withdraw.
More than 400,000 people have been displaced in three months of bombing by the Syrian regime and its allies against this province, home to some three million people.
The war in Syria, unleashed in 2011 by the bloody crackdown on anti-government protests, has claimed more than 370,000 lives and displaced more than half of the country's population.