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Will there be a new military confrontation in Syria’s Idlib?

The possibility of renewed conflict continues to simmer in the war-torn province of Idlib months after Ankara and Moscow reached a cease-fire agreement.

On July 23, Russia and Turkey carried out a successful “end-to-end” joint patrol of the M4 highway in Syria, a strategic roadway linking the country’s east and west and passing through the opposition-controlled Idlib province. While this development is an encouraging sign that further de-escalation measures may proceed, the threat of renewed conflict remains.

The latest patrol comes four months after Ankara and Moscow reached a cease-fire agreement in the war-torn province, following March talks in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The March 5 agreement — an “additional protocol” to the Sochi agreement — called for the establishment of a security corridor 6 kilometers (about 3.5 miles) north and south of the M4 highway, with joint Russian-Turkish patrols aimed at ensuring the cease-fire.

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