Turkey

Expert Voices

Safe zone in northern Syria depends on U.S.-Turkey balancing act

soldiers on foot patrolling a town, with tanks in the background
U.S. and SDF forces on patrol in Al-Darbasiyah, in northeastern Syria. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

The provisional agreement the U.S. and Turkey announced last week regarding security in northern Syria marks a positive step for the two NATO allies, whose priorities in the Syrian conflict have often diverged.

Why it matters: The proposed safe zone and guarantees to pull the U.S.–backed, Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces could help assuage Turkish concerns about a Kurdish insurgency while preserving the counter-ISIS campaign and critical stabilization efforts in northeastern Syria.

Expert Voices

Ceasefire in Syria's Idlib province brings fragile reprieve

Men on a motorcycle ride by an airstrike-damaged building
Destroyed buildings in the town of Ariha, in the south of Syria's Idlib province. Photo: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images

A newly agreed ceasefire in Idlib, Syria's last opposition stronghold, could offer a welcomed respite for the province’s desperate civilian population. But if the agreement doesn't hold, its collapse could usher in the worst humanitarian chapter of the 8-year conflict.

The big picture: The Syrian government announced the ceasefire shortly after UN Secretary-General António Guterres authorized an investigation — requested by a majority of the Security Council — into the Syrian and Russian bombing of hospitals and schools in Idlib. The terms pause the Assad regime's offensive in exchange for a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) withdrawal by opposition fighters.