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Can Sochi 2.0 save the day in Idlib?

The fragile cease-fire that took effect in Syria's rebel-held province of Idlib on March 6 under a fresh deal between Turkey and Russia might prove short-lived amid a series of uncertainties on key points of contention.

The Turkish-Russian deal to stop the dangerous escalation in Syria’s rebel bastion of Idlib is fraught with ambiguities on key issues that lie at the core of the conflict in the region. The March 5 deal — called “Sochi 2.0” by some in reference to the 2018 Sochi accord between Ankara and Moscow — might boil down to a short-lived respite before the conflict resumes with more conundrums for Turkey.

Ankara has poured some 12,000 troops into Idlib since early February to impede the advancing forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which stepped up their thrusts across Idlib in early January, backed by Russian air power. Over the past month, the Turkish military set up 12 new outposts in the region, in addition to the 12 military observation points it had established under the 2018 Sochi deal. In a dramatic escalation, 36 Turkish soldiers were killed Feb. 27 in an airstrike on a Turkish convoy, prompting fierce retributions by Turkey. In the three days from Feb. 29 to March 2, Turkey rained fire on crucial Syrian army targets, using Turkish-developed armed drones of the Anka and TB2 types, Firtina howitzers and Kasirga and Bora missiles. 

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