A meeting between the leaders of Russia, Iran, and Turkey in Tehran on Friday failed to produce a ceasefire agreement for the embattled rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib reports Reuters increasing concerns that a humanitarian crisis could develop in the region.
Despite the three leaders agreeing in a statement that there will be no successful military resolution to the fighting in Syria and that a long-term solution will only be found in political negotiations, the three could not complete those negotiations which will now have to continue.
Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan called for a truce during and after the meeting but that seemed unlikely as it began under the specter of Russian airstrikes in the province acting alongside the Syrian government. Both Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani rejected the call for a truce as Russia appears poised to stage a full offensive on the region.
The main reason for Turkey’s desire for a truce has been the ongoing refugee crisis that the fighting has unleashed, with Erdogan stating Turkey couldn’t take any more refugees. Turkey has been forced to take in the most Syrian refugees due to its shared border with Syria and its proximity to European Union member states.
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Putin’s objection to the truce proposal was due to Islamic militants not being involved in negotiations, and thus not expected to hold to any sort of truce agreed in the Iranian capital. Rouhani’s objection was a desire to have Syria regain the territory from the rebels before agreeing to any ceasefire.
The rebels’ only remaining stronghold in Syria is the Idlib province, which is why the fighting has so heavily intensified in the area as it will be key for the future of Syria.
It was unsurprising to see Iran and Russia on the same side as the pair has worked together with the Syrian government in the war. The involvement of those two countries has seen the tide of the war shift toward the government and against the Turkish supported rebels.
Now stretching seven years, there was hope heading into the day that an agreement may stop the killing, with the war claiming over half a million lives and displacing 11 million people.
For all that hope, Putin made it very clear from his opening statement that a ceasefire was not going to be likely.
“The fact is that there are no representatives of the armed opposition here around this table. And more still, there are no representatives of Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS or the Syrian army,” said the Russian President. “It would be good. But I can’t speak for them, and even more so can’t talk for terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS that they will stop shooting or stop using drones with bombs.”
The final agreement has little in the way of action but shows agreement to eliminate Islamic State and other terrorist groups, while also calling on the United Nations to increase aid, something the UN has struggled to do due to the continuous fighting.