The 11th round of the Syrian talks in Astana started yesterday, focusing on forming a constitutional committee and discussing the parameters of Syria’s constitution, as well as the situation of the demilitarized zone in Syria’s northern Idlib Province. The delegations from both the government and the opposition were present at this around of talks, joined by the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, as well as representatives from Russia, Turkey and Iran, which are considered the guarantor-states of the Astana negotiations.
Russian President’s Special Envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said following the first round of talks that the situation in Syria is slowly stabilizing, especially in the southern part of the war-torn-country. That said, President Putin’s envoy underscored that the presence of terror organizations in the province of Idlib continued to pose a challenge to the country’s stability in the north. In his words, “The presence of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib is considerable, with more than 15,000 militants. If needed, Russia would like to provide all possible assistance, including fighting together with the Syrian army.” While Turkey continues to demand the adherence of a so-called de-escalation agreement; a senior intelligence official who monitors the area indicated that the territory, under the control of Jihadist groups, is nothing but quiet. The source explained that rivalry between the extreme Muslim groups continues to mount pressure on the terror-infested territory, with daily fighting making a mockery of the de-militarized zone – which the intelligence source termed as fiction.