No: 288, 15 September 2017, Press Release Regarding the Declaration of the Idlib De-Escalation Area at the Sixth Astana Meeting Held on 14-15 September 2017

It was decided on 4 May 2017 to create de-escalation areas in certain parts of Syria in the context of the Astana meetings which were initiated to consolidate the country-wide ceasefire declared on 30 December 2016 and to develop confidence-building measures to be adopted by the conflicting parties in Syria with a view to supporting the efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict. As foreseen in the Memorandum signed in this vein, the creation of the de-escalation area in the Idlib province and its vicinity was announced at the sixth round of the Astana meetings held on 14-15 September 2017.

In accordance with the agreement reached by the three guarantor states of the Astana meetings, observers from the three states will be deployed at the checkpoints and observation posts to be established in the security zones which will constitute the borders of the de-escalation area. The principal task of the observer forces is defined as to prevent the occurrence of hostilities between the regime and the opposition as well as to monitor any ceasefire violations. The activities of the observer forces will be coordinated by the Joint Coordination Center to be established by the three guarantor states.

During the negotiation process regarding the Idlib de-escalation area, Turkey, as the guarantor of the opposition, played a decisive role in the implementation of the memorandum by taking into consideration the approaches and assessments of the opposition groups on the ground.

The declaration of the Idlib de-escalation area constitutes the final stage in the implementation of the memorandum signed with a view to de-escalating the ongoing tension on the ground in Syria. With this latest development, the memorandum, which has already enabled a significant decrease in the number of ceasefire violations on the ground since day one, significantly contributes to the preparation of the necessary conditions on the ground for the advancement of the UN-mediated political process in Geneva.

Believing that the conflict in Syria can be ended only through a political solution, Turkey is determined to build upon the momentum achieved thanks to the Astana meetings through the strong support it extends to the political transition process in Syria which the Geneva talks aim for advancing.