Turkish officials issued a statement on Wednesday reporting that the demilitarized zone to be established in Syria’s Idlib Province by the Turkey-Russia deal has effectively been formed, with all rebel heavy weapons withdrawn from the area.
A military offensive was initially planned by Syria to purge the last rebels from Idlib, and this deal was intended to avoid such fighting. Under the deal, the zone was to be a new buffer between the Syrian government and the last of the rebels.
That this was accomplished is a surprise, as several rebel groups had openly scorned the plan, including not only Islamist factions, but one of Turkey’s main allied rebel factions. Only one of the smaller factions ever publicly accepted the idea, and it was just days later Turkey declared the process completed.
The zone will be policed by both Turkish and Russian forces to ensure that no combat occurs in the area. Though Syria’s goal is ultimately to reunify the country, that seems to be on hold with this zone in place.