Syria, Russia Declare Ceasefire After Major Idlib Offensive

Syrian civilians try to flee into neighboring Turkey

As Syria’s offensive in Idlib Province drew close to the northern border with Turkey, they and the Russian government jointly announced a surprise ceasefire. The ceasefire will go into effect on Saturday morning.

Syrian forces made substantial gains on the main highway, but also approached the border. It’s not clear why it was decided to make the ceasefire now, though Russia said it was meant to “stabilize the situation,” likely referring to civilian displacement.

The displaced have been flocking to one of the big border crossings on Friday, trying to push their way into Turkey. Turkey, of course, closed the border long ago, and a big reason for backing rebels in Idlib was to have a place to send the displaced.

Russia’s statement also called on the rebels to use the new ceasefire as an opportunity to join the peace process. That’s unlikely with al-Qaeda, though they have lost substantial territory in this last round of fighting.

Those losses might well inform the rebels, or what’s left of them, going forward, as they’ll be less able to seriously spark new fights with Syria, and if they do, they’ll be at risk of getting routed entirely if things turn bad.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.