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Who is benefiting from Russian-Turkish patrols in northwest Syria?

Many in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib see no benefits to the joint Russian-Turkish patrols conducted under a demilitarization deal, as the Syrian regime sporadically attacks the area and managed to take several areas since the deal was reached in September 2018.
A Turkish-Russian military convoy tows a damaged vehicle after its joint patrol was reportedly targeted on the strategic M4 highway, near the Syrian town of Urum al-Jawz in the south of the northwestern Idlib province, on August 25, 2020. - Russia and Turkey launched joint patrols along the M4 highway in March following a ceasefire agreement aimed at stopping heavy fighting in and around Idlib, the last major bastion of anti-government forces in Syria's civil war. (Photo by Abdulaziz KETAZ / AFP) (Photo by

Russia and Turkey concluded the Sochi agreement in the Russian city of Sochi near the Black Sea in September 2018. One of the most important clauses was “the establishment of a demilitarized zone in the Idlib governorate in northwestern Syria” to stop the clashes between the Syrian regime forces and the opposition factions.

However, this agreement did not hold for long. A military escalation at the end of April 2019 saw Syrian regime forces — backed by Russian air cover — launch an attack on northwestern Syria. The regime managed to advance to Maarat al-Numan in southern Idlib province, a clear breach of Article 2 of the Sochi agreement, which stipulates, “The Russian Federation will take all necessary measures to ensure that military operations and attacks on Idlib will be avoided and that the existing status quo will be maintained.”

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