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Russia-Turkey deal on Syria’s Idlib ‘was Iran’s idea’

Moscow :(This is the fifth and last news article in the series “Iran’s point man on Middle East.” To read the fourth, click here; the third, here; the second, here; and the first, here. To read a report of the interview with Hossein Jaberi Ansari, see here.)

A deal reached between Russia and Turkey last month to attempt to peacefully resolve the issue of Syria’s Idlib Province, the last major stronghold of anti-government militants in the Arab country, was based in its entirety on an Iranian proposal, says Iran’s chief negotiator on Syria.

Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Iran’s point man on the Middle East and North Africa, told Press TV’s website in an exclusive interview on October 10, that the deal, reached in Sochi in mid-September, was based on Iran’s idea to have Russia and Turkey — which support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict — meet each other halfway.

Conflict erupted in Syria back in 2011, when a small group of opposition forces took up arms against Damascus. Soon, however, a mix of international terrorists and paid mercenaries mingled with and then largely sidestepped the armed Syrian opposition groups, effectively turning the Arab country into a battlefield for foreign governments opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But the Syrian military, with advisory military help from Iran and Russia — and a Russian aerial bombardment campaign — has retaken control of much of the country, and the conflict is generally believed to be winding down.

Idlib remains the last major piece of Syrian land still not in control of the Syrian government.

Over the past couple of years, armed groups that have been defeated in battles with the Syrian military have been bused into Idlib under agreements with Damascus. While those groups have mostly had to leave their heavy weaponry behind under those deals, they have been allowed to take their small arms with them.

In parts of his remarks published previously, Jaberi Ansari said that Moscow and Ankara did not see eye to eye on how to resolve Idlib. He said Russia was more inclined to resolve the matter more quickly while Turkey sought to indefinitely delay any resolution of the issue.
‘Neither abrupt war, nor abrupt peace’

He said Iran had its own ideas — and offered a third path.