>> Turkey and Russia struck a deal this week to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Syria's Idlib, from which hardline rebels must withdraw. It's averted an offensive by the Russian-backed Syrian Army. And a likely humanitarian catastrophe, that would've driven masses of refugees into Turkey. But as Reuters' Angus McDowall reports, the deal is fraught with challenges.
>> The Syrian government says, that it still wants to take back every inch of the country. And it's also said without giving any details, that there was a specific time frame to this agreement. For Turkey, the biggest challenge is going to be separating, what it regards as radical groups from the other rebel factions based in Idlib.
It said that it wants to pull those back, from the front lines, out of the demilitarized zone, and remove from them all heavy armor and equipment. Now, it's already been trying for many months to split what it sees as radical and moderate rebel factions, without much success. And whether it can, in fact, do that now, to a degree that will satisfy not only itself, but also Russia, is what this whole deal will hang upon.
While the Syrian government backed by Russia, appeared ready to launch an offensive on Idlib, there were some big obstacles that stood in its way. The biggest of those was the presence, the military presence on the ground of Turkey which had set up army observation posts around the front lines.
Any significant offensive, would have brought the Syrian army very close to those, and could well have led to some kind of major escalation with Turkey. There's also a strategic price at stake. In the two major highways that lead to Aleppo and the Turkish foreign minister said today that both of those highways, could again become passable by the end of the year