Idlib is one of four ‘de-escalation zones’ agreed between Russia, Turkey and Iran on May 6. Their partial implementation has reduced the pressure of airstrikes by pro-government forces, but has intensified rebel infighting in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta. The southernmost zone, around Dera’a, is quiet for now, based on a separate agreement between Russia and the United States.
- The United States could launch tactical strikes on pro-government forces seen to encroach on its sphere of influence.
- Any signs of an easing of sanctions in the banking and import sectors could herald a new international reconstruction push.
- The opposition will lobby Western backers to maintain the link between reconstruction assistance and a negotiated political reconciliation.