Russian-Turkish Dispute Over Idlib Agreement Explanation- Sources
There are four points of dispute between Moscow and Ankara over the explanation of the agreement on Syria's Idlib, reached two weeks ago between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sources with knowledge of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.
On Sept. 17, Moscow and Ankara signed in Sochi an agreement on setting up a 9-12 mile demilitarized zone in Idlib along the contact line of the armed opposition and regime forces.
According to the agreement, all heavy weaponry operated by opposition factions must be pulled out of the demilitarized zone by October 10 and “terrorist groups” should be cleared by October 15.
The sources said Moscow already informed Tehran, Damascus and Ankara that in case the above conditions were not fully implemented, Russia would therefore immediately launch a military operation and airstrikes against Idlib.
According to the sources, Russia and Turkey disagree over the depth of the decentralized zone, as Moscow is seeking to annex Idlib and other main cities to it, but Ankara has rejected the offer.
The second disagreement is related to the two main roads linking Aleppo to Latakia and Hama, which are considered the “main artery of the North.” Russia asked that the Syrian regime control the M4 from Aleppo to Latakia and the M5 from Aleppo to Hama before 2019. However, Ankara insists that the roads remain monitored by Russia and Turkey.
The third disagreement is related to the fate of extremists as Turkish officials want to transfer them to Kurdish-controlled areas while Russian officials insist on “terminating them.”
Also, the two sides disagree over the range of the Sochi agreement.
Moscow wants it a temporary agreement similar to the ones implemented in the de-escalation areas of Daraa, Damascus Ghouta and Homs, while Ankara prefers to have it permanent, similar to the one implemented in the areas of Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations.
Both countries hope that a Russian-Turkish-French-German summit planned for next month could contribute to solving the disputes over Idlib.