For the regime, a battle for Idlib, backed by the Russian Air Force, would likely be profitable. But it would be neither clean nor simple. It would necessarily lead to large-scale violence and deaths, in a region with a population several times larger than that of eastern Aleppo and rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, and unlike these enclaves, there is no clear way out: there is no other Idlib to evacuate. [fn] The populations of Eastern Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta held by the rebels appear to have been systematically overestimated before their fall. However, even though the population of the Northwest is inflated in the same way and half of the estimated three million or so are still 10 times larger than in East Aleppo (about 157,000) and more than five times larger than in Ghouta (about 278,000). Estimates by Aron Lund, “East Aleppo under al-Assad,” IRIN News, 12. April 2017; Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Syrian Arab Republic: Response to the Eastern Ghouta Crisis in Rural Damascus Situation Report No. 5 (19 April – 1 May 2018)”, 1 May 2018.Hide footnote The text currently in circulation of the Sochi Agreement is an annex to a letter from the Russian and Turkish representatives to the United Nations (UN), Vasily Nebenzia and Feridun Sinirlioglu, who transmit the agreement to the President of the United Nations Security Council – currently in the United States – and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Your letter is dated September 18.
Read here the letter of transmission and the full text of the Sochi agreement. We examined the situation in detail and decided before October 15, a demilitarized zone 15 to 20 km deep along the line of contact between the armed opposition and government forces, with the withdrawal of radical militants from the area, including al-Nusra. Still until October 10, on the basis of the Turkish President`s proposal to ensure the withdrawal of heavy military equipment, tanks, multiple rocket launchers, cannons and mortars from all opposition groups. Turkish mobile patrol boats and Russian military police units will monitor the demilitarized zone. Also restore the crossing along the Aleppo-Latakia and Aleppo-Hama lines by the end of 2018, again on the proposal of the Turkish side. At the UN in New York, Nebenzia`s office was asked to certify its letter and the text of the Agreement; He refused. Sinirlioglu was also asked to certify the documents; He too refused. The unilateral English-language version of the September 17 agreement was published by an Abu Dhabi-based English-language website called The National. The text states that two language versions, Russian and English, have “the same legal force”. Officially, no Turkish version has been released.
A Turkish translation is circulating on the Internet; This Twitter feed source, which has its Arabic name from a town in the Syrian governorate of Hama, appears hostile to the Syrian government. The English version was reproduced by Al-Jazeera, but without authentication. The Sochi agreement means the Turkish consolidation of Syrian territory and the military occupation until the overthrow of the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus: this is the assessment of the Turkish government media. “The Idlib agreement also protects the profits generated by operations Afrin and Euphrat Shield,” said Mehmet Acet, a veteran of state television. “The communication of demands between Putin and Erdo─čan has made the Damascus regime a mere dream. [Until Assad is deposed], it will not be an option for Turkish forces to withdraw from Syria.┬á“We need details,” he said, adding that the Assad government has already broken many agreements, including de-escalation zones negotiated by Russia and Turkey. There would be inevitable consequences for members of the Syrian opposition who participate in Astana and other Russian-backed processes.