Iran, Turkey and Russia fail to reach agreement; Assad sets sights on north
Photo by Spc. Anthony Zendejas IV on dod.gov | U.S. 3rd Cavalry Regiment with Iraqi security forces fire artillery at Islamic State locations near the Iraqi-Syrian border. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has regained control of most of Syria and hopes to recapture the north.
On Sept. 9, the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Russia met to discuss a potential ceasefire in the Syrian Civil War.
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoan called for Syria not to begin an offensive into Idlib, warning of civilian casualties and stating that his country was not prepared for more refugees. Russia President Vladimir Putin was firm in his assertion that the remnants of ISIS in the province need to be defeated.
Ultimately, negotiations fell through. However Putin has remained open to the idea of making peace with certain rebel groups, and the three leaders will meet again in Russia.
Putin and Russia have held a long-standing alliance with Syrian President Bahaer Al-Assad. The United States and Turkey, both NATO allies, have supported some rebel groups, particularly those based in northern Syria (ie. The Free Syrian Army).
The presence of Kurdish forces controlling the northeastern region of Rojava have been supported by both the U.S. and Russia, but have a hostile relationship with Turkey. The Syrian Civil War has continued to make steady progress during recent months as it draws closer to a conclusion.
With the war causing both civilian deaths and a refugee crisis, people around the world are wishing for the war to finally come to an end. First-year student Kevin Fedders said, “Human lives are human lives. The war’s causing far too many deaths and there is guilt on many sides.”
Assad has taken control back in much of Syria, including eastern Syria where the Islamic State formerly held control. Assad has turned his focus toward the northern province of Idlib, the last stronghold of anti-Assad rebels.
On Sept. 3, President Donald Trump tweeted, “President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province…Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!”
The United Nations has warned of the potential of the “worst humanitarian catastrophe” with an assault of Idlib. The U.N. agency coordinating relief efforts estimated that 30,000 people have been displaced from the region and a potential 800,000 more could move.
Approximately 3 million civilians live in the farmlands of Idlib.
“There needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don’t turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe with the biggest loss of life in the 21st century,” Mark Lowcock, chief of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said.
The Syrian Civil War began nearly seven and a half years ago and has taken more than 100,000 civilian lives, as well as forced more than 500,000 people to become refugees.
Assad has not yet begun a ground offensive into Idlib but continues to conduct airstrikes onto rebel provinces with Russian support. Experts fear the potential loss of life in the theoretical offensive, predicting that this last stage of the civil war may be the deadliest.
By: Aaron Ticknor | Guest Writer