“Immediate Cease-Fire Along Existing Lines” — Erdogan Gives Up His Failed Offensive

So ends the dream of throwing back the Syrian army, instead Turkey agrees to invite Russian troops into Idlib jihadistan

Throughout February Erdogan demanded the Syrian army stops its Idlib advances against al-Qaeda-held Idlib and falls back to its starting lines. Throughout February he threatened that if the Syrians did not do so his military would make them. Come the expiration of his February-end deadline he proved true to his threat to try and do so. Less than a week later he has admitted the battlefield defeat of his attempt. Far from forcing the Syrian army back, Erdogan in Moscow formally accepted that they’re not going anywhere and asked for a truce.

The cease-fire has been granted, but not entirely for free. Since the battlefield initiative remained (albeit only very slightly so) with the Syrian-Russian side, it was Erdogan who had to give up something for relief from further humiliation.

In addition to an immediate cease-fire, Erdogan and Putin agreed to a 6-kilometer “safe zone” to each side of the M4 highway that cuts across the territory still in rebel hands from the west to the east. The two also agree to joint Russian-Turkish patrols along its entire length.

This means Turkey will have to guarantee the safety of patroling Russians troops from jihadis, and if Turkey fails to deliver Moscow will once again feel itself justified in granting Damascus another green light for another offensive. (Not that Damascus will always feel it needs such a green light if it continues recovering strength.)

Also according to Putin’s statement, the need to eliminate UN-designated terror groups stipulated by the Sochi Agreement remains in place. So unless Turkey somehow dissolves the main rebel coalition Russia still reserves the right to have Syria do it at a later date.

Doubtlessly we’d be talking different terms right now if the Syrian army had not managed to stage a comeback and blunt the Turkish offensive. But with Erdogan failing to create gains for the jihadis on the ground there was certainly no need for Putin to grant him any in Moscow.

The outcome of all of this is that Erdogan has secured terms (a temporary freeze) he would have most likely been able to get without launching the invasion in the first place and losing 70 Turkish KIA, without creating considerable political problems for himself at home, and without once again torpedoing his image in the EU.

That — securing terms no better than what you could have had without a war — is the definition of military failure.

How the 12-km “safe zone” (whatever that is supposed to be) looks on the map:

32 Comments
  1. Melville Pouwels says

    i hope thats an end to it…
    but hard to tell, with that man…he’s bat shit crazy !!

  2. Jihadi Colin says

    Can anyone believe that Erdo will live up to its promises to secure the safe zone and neutralise al Qaeda any more this time than it did the last time it made promises, at Sochi?

    1. JustPassingThrough says

      -a lot depends on the increased political pressure at home.

      (more physical fighting in parliament)

      -the body bag count.

      (Notice how the names and photos of dispatched turkish soldiers are finding their way to social media channels.)
      -turkey’s coming debacle in Libya
      (Haftar + Syria) with RU approval.

    2. ALTERNATE HISTORY says

      Putin didn’t either, Colin, but, has been playing a war of attrition all along, playing for time to allow Syria to get stronger.

  3. Undecider says

    They’ll try again. Israel and the United States will demand it.

  4. John Rourke says

    Erdogan isn’t the “sharpest spoon in the drawer”.

    1. ALTERNATE HISTORY says

      ROFL. Thanks, John. Great stuff!

  5. cechas vodobenikov says

    obviously amerikan/turk influence is eroding
    http://www.sott.net/article/430222
    US fascists r largely ignored and their turk/US proxies—al Qaeda, HTS, etc r excluded from the ceasefire…if turk soldiers wish to avoid casualties they will separate themselves from their terrorist proxies

  6. jm74 says

    All sounds good until the next violation and violation of any agreement. Turkey should be leaving Syria not embedding itself. If you look at the video one can see that Shoygu and Lavrov are not too happy; that body language says it all.

  7. CHUCKMAN says

    Here’s how Scott Ritter at RT views it:

    “New Putin-Erdogan deal is sugar-coating the Turks’ surrender”

    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/482477-erdogan-putin-turkey-idlib/

  8. thomas malthaus says

    Did the legitimate question of why Turkey is in Syria ever arise? We know Erdogan has made bank re the migrants and Syrian oil.

    This agreement strikes me as very much like the last one: made to be breached.

    1. ALTERNATE HISTORY says

      It would seem only a question of time before it’s breached, Thomas, just like the US/Taliban agreement. Syria and Russia will continue to liberate Idlib (decimate the terrorists) and Turkey will help its terrorists again, and full frontal attacks again. Plus ca change…

    2. Mark says

      Erdogan claims that ‘the Syrian people’ invited him in, and that Turkey will not leave until those who invited Turkey in say that they want the Turks to leave. Conveniently, who those people are has not been identified, nor what proportion of the Syrian electorate they represent or who gave them leave to speak for the Syrian government, which certainly would not be fighting to dislodge and throw them out if it wanted them there. I imagine Erdogan spoke with some of the activists who have been trying to get a formulaic western military intervention going since the conflict began. It’s certainly not legitimate, and I imagine if you went looking for people in the UK who wanted the USA to intervene militarily to throw out the British government, you could find some.

      “We did not go [to Syria] because we were invited by [Assad],” he said.
      “We went there because we were invited by the people of Syria. We don’t
      intend to leave before the people of Syria [say] OK, this is done.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/29/erdogan-says-border-will-stay-open-as-greece-tries-to-repel-influx

      1. thomas malthaus says

        I find it difficult to believe President Putin actually spent six hours with Turkey President Erdogan.
        If so, this has a “Delay them as much as possible” theme attached by Erdogan via US strategists.

    3. jm74 says

      One would have thought that if Turkey wanted a safe zone they would have established it on there own territory.

  9. tapatio says

    The best reaction to this news is………”Sssssuck it Erdogan!!!”

    Then it will be time to remove the US terrorists from Syria.

  10. Jesus says

    The Russian goal of reducing the territorial footprint of Turkish backed rebels in Idlib through military or diplomatic means is working incrementally until the whole province is sanitized of terrorists.

    1. cechas vodobenikov says

      this must be gradual in order to avoid the wholesale murder of civilians that resulted from the amerikan ethnic cleansing in Mosul

  11. Stephen Charles Slater says
  12. Mark says

    That’s all very well, but I can’t help noticing the USA’s Ambassador to the UN was just in Syria (briefly) the other day, mugging for the camera with the White Helmets (all sporting brand-new helmets without a scratch on them, must be part of their dress uniform, for ceremonial occasions). At that time, Ms. Craft said that obviously, the first thing that was needed was an immediate cease-fire. I must observe that the USA has gotten its wish, and considering its own plan for Syria – which has endured setbacks but never really been abandoned – that cannot be good over the medium to long term.

    Consider the example of Aleppo. While the jihadis were advancing or consolidating territory recently captured, the west made not a peep of objection. As soon as the Syrian government forces backed by Russian air power began to incrementally take it back, the western media exploded with acrimony over the heart-wrenching humanitarian situation, the atrocities, the war crimes, and the Last Hospital In Aleppo was destroyed on pretty much a daily basis for weeks, as if readers couldn’t count. What was needed, by God, was a cease-fire, and right now. Every time the west got a cease-fire in place, its operatives and proxies were busy as bees, calling up jihadi reinforcements, reallocating forces to likely breach positions and bringing up loads more ammunition and light weaponry. When the jihadi side – excuse me; ‘moderate rebels’ – felt their situation had stabilized, they would once more begin to advance to seize more territory, and the whole process would start again. It’s difficult to imagine how many SAA soldiers died needlessly due to injected strategic pauses demanded by the west so that the jihadis could regroup and freshen up.

    The west would also love to see a no-fly zone so as to take Russian air striking power out of the equation, but that’s not going to happen. However, a cease-fire is bad enough. I’m certainly not eager to see more people die in an assault which is pressed to its conclusion, but experience should teach us that the west – led by the United States, for some unaccountable reason which has nothing whatever to do with demonstrated leadership ability – demands cease-fires not so much because it wants the situation to stabilize as because it wants to resupply its jihadi warriors, give them a pep-talk, pump them up and then throw them back into the line against the SAA. The west desperately wants a nice little jihadi outpost in Syria from which to stir things up whenever it wants to meddle. It was originally going to be Aleppo, then Raqqa…and now it’s Idlib.

    1. stevek9 says

      It’s going to be hard to resupply the jihadi’s under the current conditions, with the M4 and M5 highways under Syrian (oops Russian/Turkish) control. I expect more jihadis to be heading to Libya. They won’t do anything useful for Turkey there, except die, which is what Erdogan should want at this point, if he has any brain at all.

      If they slowly dribble out, then Russia has more time to make the point to Erdogan (if it needs to be made again), that Syria is allied to Russia (and Iran and Hezbollah), and they have a joint goal to restore Syria to its recognized borders.

      1. Mark says

        It won’t be hard at all; light arms and ammunition can be brought in in covered trucks, and the UN will characterize them as emergency aid and order that they not be obstructed, searched or delayed. The UN consistently argues for ‘humanitarian corridors’ for exactly this reason; so that fleeing inhabitants can get out, yes, but also so that reinforcements can be brought in.

        “Mr. O’Brien noted that despite very difficult and dangerous conditions,humanitarian aid organizations remain committed to continuing their work and reaching all those in need. In that regard, he reiterated a call for speedy, unconditional, and unimpeded and sustained access to the millions of people in need, particularly those in besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria.”

        https://news.un.org/en/story/2016/09/539492-un-officials-condemn-attacks-against-aid-convoy-and-warehouse-rural-aleppo

        There’s just enough deniability that UN officials can argue they don’t actually know what is in the trucks, and that they trust those who load them to only put in food, medicine and other necessities to sustain life under a blockade. But there can’t be any western leaders left who don’t know the west is supplying the sinews of war to terrorist groups whose only plan for Syria is to wipe out Assad and the Alawites. That’s what makes them such perfect allies to the social engineers of the west – they are completely uninterested in leading or building a new nation, and will leave all the statecraft arrangements to the meddlers.

        1. JustPassingThrough says

          “It won’t be hard at all; light arms and ammunition can be brought in in
          covered trucks, and the UN will characterize them as emergency aid and
          order that they not be obstructed, searched or delayed”

          Ridiculous! The UN is not doing the monitoring.

    2. JustPassingThrough says

      “At that time, Ms. Craft said that obviously, the first thing that was
      needed was an immediate cease-fire. I must observe that the USA has
      gotten its wish, and considering its own plan for Syria”

      Ridiculous!

  13. RussG553 says

    The M4 Highway 6 km wide rodent exclusion zone effectively yields the area south of the highway to Syria, so another good turn of events.

  14. nick1111 says

    It is just another BS agreement, so Turkey can bring more troops and weapons into Syria.
    Putin shall know, you do not talk to dog, you talk to his owner, US

  15. CHUCKMAN says

    Some Turks undoubtedly feel they have a claim to the region.

    Back around WWI the French gave some of this region to Turkey trying to influence Turkey’s position in the war.

    I don’t know the full history, but I would think that influences Erdogan.

    Talk about a “safe zone” is just camouflage.

    1. Peter Williams says

      The Ottoman Empire controlled this entire area until its collapse following WWI. The French who controlled Syria after WWI, gave the Hatay Province of Syria to Turkey prior to WWII. If you “don’t know the full history”, then don’t comment.

      1. Canosin says

        it’s because he loves to burp and parrot bs……no own standing point……

      2. XRGRSF says

        So be a jerk in another forum, why don’t you?

  16. cechas vodobenikov says

    http://www.sott.net/article/430281
    this reflects that the US empire is near collapse. a nation of impotent, passive, stupefied people now sexually assaulting cell phones

    1. ALTERNATE HISTORY says

      Good one, cechas. ”
      a nation of impotent, passive, stupefied people now sexually assaulting cell phones…”Beautifully said!

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