This week an important event took place in Astana. On Thursday, the capital of Kazakhstan hosted the second international meeting on conflict resolution in Syria. It is clear that the consultations were held behind closed doors, but, according to our information, Russia, Iran, and Turkey agreed on the cooperation guidelines of the joint group on monitoring the cessation of hostilities. Its tasks include the separation of terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Nusra from the armed, but none the less moderate Syrian opposition. Thus, one more step towards peace in Syria was taken. Our main military expert Evgeny Poddubny is monitoring events in Astana and Syria itself.
The efforts at the negotiations in Astana brought real results. The process of political settlement of the conflict in Syria now has, so to speak, a skeleton, a basis, and this basis is the mechanism for monitoring the ceasefire in the Syrian Arab Republic. The hot stage of the conflict excludes any real prospects for an agreement. But in the capital of Kazakhstan, the participants of the meeting on Syria approved the provision on the joint truce monitoring group. The document was prepared by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. That means the countries, which really affect the situation in Syria, came to an agreement.
At the same time, in the same place, in Astana, there is a process which in the future will allow to separate the so-called moderate armed opposition from terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Nusra Front. So far, seven major groupings have joined the ceasefire, and this itself is an attempt to break away from Al-Nusra. Although some groupings from the list were linked to the former branch of Al-Qaeda.
The influence which Turkey had on militants, however, was strong enough to break these ties. The number of militants in the groupings that withdrew from fighting is more than 50 thousand people. If these groups really stop the confrontation with the Syrian army, the governmental forces will be able to focus their resources on combating the fake caliphate.
In fact, there are two most intense confrontation areas in the Arab Republic. The first one is closer and more comprehensible to Russians — Palmyra. The new operation on the liberation of the ancient city is in full swing. The governmental forces, which include both regular as well as allied troops, continue their offensive with the aim of knocking the terrorists of the fake caliphate out from Tadmor and bringing peace back to Palmyra.
The second area of equal importance is in the province of Aleppo. There, the Turkish forces and the forces of the so-called Free Syrian Army mired in the fighting for Al-Bab. ISIS terrorists were able to organize an effective defense and hold back Turkey's military offense. It’s not the first time that one of the most powerful armies of NATO fails to drive out terrorists from this small town, though fighting continues, and we need to look at the development of the situation.
At the same time, the Syrian military are successful in the same province, advancing in the direction of Euphrates. Five kilometers are left until they arrive in Dayr Hafir. There, ISIS terrorists thoroughly prepared for the defense. Taking the city will not be easy.
It was the terrorists that first sensed the effectiveness of the negotiation process on the Syrian settlement in Astana. The pressure of the Syrian army on the militants of ISIS and Al-Nusra has increased. Moreover, there are violent clashes between groupings in the Idlib province. This region is under full control of Bashar Al-Assad's opponents. That is, groupings, which want to become the official opposition, have to go through battles with the terrorists to achieve their goal. The radicals of Al-Nusra understand that they are losing allies and resources that were previously redistributed depending on the situation in a particular sector of the front. Now, the situation has changed for the first time since the start of the Syrian conflict.