image Photo: Reuters

Russia-Turkey reach truce over Syria

A ceasefire is seemingly holding in Syria’s northwestern Idlib region, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin reached an arrangement to secure a so-called security corridor that will stretch 6 kilometers both north and south of the strategic M4 highway.

“We do not always agree with our Turkish partners in our view on the events in Syria,” said Russian President Putin, adding “But each time in a critical moment, relying on the high level of bilateral ties we have reached – we have always managed to find common grounds on the disputed questions, find agreeable solutions,” underscoring that “This time was no different.”

Turkish President Erdogan declared the ceasefire deal would go into effect at one minute after midnight last night. “In term of making it last, all necessary actions will be taken fast and efficiently,” he said, explaining that “Our goal is to prevent the worsening of the humanitarian crisis in the region.” Erdogan said that the two countries would work together “to supply aid for all the Syrians in need, without any precondition and discrimination.”

While a senior Turkish source who is familiar with the details of the arrangement highlighted to TV7 that the Ankara-Moscow agreement was formulated in good faith, President Erdogan did not shy away from levelling a threat to the leadership of Damascus that “Turkey retains the right to respond to all (Syrian) regime attacks in force and in the field.”

Speaking to Russian media; Syrian President Bashar al-Assad commented that his country will abide by the deal, while voicing hope of ultimately normalizing relations with Syria’s northern neighbor, Turkey. “Despite Turkish aggression, our common goal with Russia was and remains to make Turkey change its policy from the support of the terrorists and to bring our relations back to normal,” said the Syrian President. He went on to assert that “For us in Syria and for you, Turkey is a neighbor state – it is only natural to have normal relations with a neighbor state. But under no circumstances should this relation (with a neighbor state) be negative. If your question is whether this is possible then naturally it is possible. But how can we achieve this if Erdogan supports terrorists, he needs to stop supporting terrorists. And then the situation will normalize, because there is no enmity between the peoples of Turkey and Syria,” said Assad.

The Syrian people voiced support of the ceasefire while simultaneously calling for Turkey’s withdrawal from the Arab Republic. Albukamal resident Jomaah Salem told Reuters, “We are all supportive of the ceasefire and we hope to see Syria become free of terrorism,” stressing that “All the Syrian people support the ceasefire and ending the bloodshed.” Hussein Hamoud al-Ahrash of Damascus said he agreed with the ceasefire, but the Turks should pull out of his country because “They have nothing to do with us. They should leave. Everything is fine and Syria is getting better.” Damascus resident Shafiq Saab concurred, but qualified that the public backs the ceasefire only on the condition that it should be to the benefit of the Syrian army, saying “We hope they leave peacefully, which is better than if we make them leave with Syrian army’s shoes.”