A source told AsiaNews that an "apparent calm" prevails in Idlib, where life “seems to have stopped”. Caution informs the military situation as belligerents wait for developments. Refugees are no longer able to enter Turkish territory. Civilians are concerned about food and fuel shortages.
Idlib (AsiaNews) – In Idlib, an “apparent calm” prevails following a truce agreed by the presidents of Russia and Turkey in Moscow last week. “For now, it is holding” and life in the city “seems to have stopped, in a state of suspension,” said a government source speaking to AsiaNews, under anonymity for security reasons.
Pressure on the last rebel stronghold in Syria has diminished, and it is hardly in the news. The Turkish army “is still present in the area" and, in spite of threats of counterattacks should the ceasefire be violated, “calm seems to prevail".
The agreement signed on 5 March by Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan is holding up; Turkish and Syrian forces remain in their positions. However, Erdogan continues to threaten his NATO allies (read the US) in Syria and Europe with millions of refugees to get more concessions.
In the end, the conflict is being fought on the backs of civilians and could lead to another humanitarian crisis, as the Syrian Church has warned, and as Pope Francis noted in his latest prayers.
“The Turks are apparently no longer allowing the refugees near the border to enter the country,” the source told AsiaNews.
Yesterday, some reports suggested "a certain movement in the streets of Idlib" of people and vehicles. Someone from the front "has started to go home". However, the situation still remains "uncertain".
Civilians, locals and refugees, are not only concerned by the Turks and Syrians still shelling each other with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still seeking to re-establish control over all of his country’s territory after nine years of war, but after a cold winter and exhausted by hunger and fighting, they are having to contend, in places like Aleppo and Idlib, with food and fuel shortages.
For many, a ceasefire would prevent a further escalation. The deal agreed by Moscow and Ankara did indeed curb the violence, but people are still waiting to see Russian and Turkish forces start their joint patrols in the area on 15 March.
Meanwhile, Erdogan continues to up the ante with Europe, threatening that the number of refugees going to Europe “will increase even more” and that “The negative effects of this pressure on (Turkey) will be an issue felt by all European countries, especially Greece.”