Syria’s war-battered Idlib region was quiet but tense on Friday as a ceasefire deal between Moscow and Ankara took effect, with residents and opposition forces describing a lull in air raids that have pounded the last rebel-held enclave in Syria.
Russia and Turkey struck the agreement on Thursday evening, after six hours of talks in Moscow, to contain a conflict that has displaced nearly a million people in three months in northwest Syria.
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Russia and NATO-member Turkey back opposing sides in Syria’s nine-year-old war. Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey backs some opposition groups.
The two sides had been edging closer to direct confrontation in recent weeks.
‘Very tense calm’
Residents and fighters in the region said the main frontlines – which have seen heavy air strikes by Russian and Syrian jets, and intense Turkish artillery and drone strikes on Assad’s forces – were quiet hours after the ceasefire came into effect at midnight.
There was only sporadic fire from machine guns, mortars and artillery by Syrian government forces and Iranian militias on some frontlines in the south of Idlib and also in the adjacent Aleppo province, they said.
“In the first hours, we are witnessing a very tense calm from all warring parties,” said Ibrahim al-Idlibi, an opposition figure in touch with rebel groups on the ground.