It appears that Turkish President Recep Erdogan has achieved his goal. The negotiations between the Turkish leader in his Russian counterpart in Sochi resulted in the decision to create a demilitarized zone along the front lines in the Syrian Idlib province.
The agreement stipulates that the militants should move back their positions by 15-20 kilometers until 15th October and remove heavy weaponry from the front lines. Is is currently unclear how exactly these points will be implemented and what would follow if some militants refuse to retreat. That aside, Turkey will likely attempt to exert full control over Hayat Tahrir al Sham and other jihadists via its proxies.
In case Turkey follows up on its promises, the agreement on the demilitarized zone will be extended up to 15th December. However, the future of 10-15 thousand of militants who do not fall under the “moderate” type, do not want to enter Turkish-backed factions or lay down arms, remains undecided. A large scale offensive is not likely to happen until the issue of establishing the demilitarized zone is fully resolved. Russian Defense Minister has already declared that there would be no new operation in Idlib.
Futher developments will show chances of the Syrian Arab Army choosing to conduct limited scale operations in Northern Hama and Lattakia. Additional “behind the table” agreements could also surface in the near future.
Upon the whole it could be stated that Turkey has managed to prevent Russia and Iran from launching an operation in Idlib as it was initially designed this August. Turkey’s Erdogan has got another month to stabilize the situation in Idlib and assert full control over the numerous armed factions.
The Syrian government has already voiced it support for the agreement.
In light of the suspended offensive the attention of Russia and Iran is likely to shift towards the International Coalition base in Al Tanf and the Kurdish-dominated areas of Northern Syria. This will be welcomed by Turkey, which considers the Kurdish YPG units as the biggest threat to its security.
This outcome is largely beneficial for Turkey. However, the agreement may also have additional stipulations stipulations which have not been made public, as it was the case with previous deals.