‘There was a celebration in Syria when Russia announced a ceasefire agreement with Turkey on March 3 following a six-hour meeting between Presidents Erdogan and Putin in Moscow. Under the agreement, Erdogan agreed to pull back Turkish forces and not to contest territory that Syria had recently reclaimed from terrorist groups in eastern Aleppo and southern Idlib provinces. In fact, Turkey agreed not to intervene against Syrian troops in any of the areas from which it pulled back, in effect allowing Syrian forces to reclaim even more of its territory from terrorists in southern Idlib.
The agreement appeared to be a capitulation by Erdogan, who, prior to his trip to Moscow, had been demanding that Syria return the reclaimed territory under terms of the Astana agreement inked in September 2018. Syria, on the other hand, argued that Turkey had not fulfilled its obligations under the agreement, thereby allowing Syria to use its military to enforce the terms against the terrorist groups occupying Syrian territory.
But when the Syrians expelled the forces of al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) from towns and villages along the previous ceasefire lines, Turkey reacted by sending thousands of Turkish reinforcements and massive armaments to the aid of its terrorist allies. Dozens of Turkish troops were killed and Turkey threatened to take direct military action to repel Syrian forces.’