The De-escalation Zones in Syria: Prospects and Challenges

Given the fact that neither the Assad regime nor the Syrian opposition has signed the recent agreement, maintaining the de-escalation zones could be an arduous task. Three major problems arise (1) the Assad regime’s militaristic interpretation of the agreement and reluctance to provide “rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” and “measures to restore basic infrastructure facilities,” which are stated as essential elements in the agreement, (2) the opposition’s deep skepticism and internal divisions, and (3) the potential provocations by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and other al-Qaida affiliates to disrupt the process. These are nestled among the rebels in all proposed de-escalation zones and are most powerful in the Idlib region and its surroundings—a critical zone that could determine the fate of the agreement. READ IN FULL

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