GZERO Media logo

A Delayed Bloodbath in Syria

A Delayed Bloodbath in Syria

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to establish demilitarized zones around rebel-held territory in Syria’s Idlib province. If you haven’t been following closely, Idlib, located in northwestern Syria along the Turkish border, is home to thousands of rebels and foreign fighters who have taken up arms against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the country’s six-year civil war. It’s also home to about three million civilians—many of them refugees from other war-torn parts of Syria—who risk getting caught in a bloodbath as Assad, with Russian help, seeks to crush one of the last bastions of organized resistance to his regime.


With the UN warning that the battle over Idlib could be a humanitarian catastrophe, Erdogan wants to avoid any more refugees crossing into Turkey, which already hosts 3.5 million Syrians. Putin, for his part, is happy to play the strong statesman in this intractable conflict, as it helps to advance his own country’s interests in any post-war settlement.

The good news: The agreement to create a 15-25 kilometer buffer zone that will be patrolled by Russian and Turkish troops should put any incursion by Syrian forces into Idlib on hold for now. Assad won’t attack without the green light from Putin, and Syrian forces had already suspended most airstrikes in recent days. In theory, it should also give millions of civilians a safe place to hunker down instead of forcing them to seek uncertain refuge in Turkey.

The bad news: Any respite may only be temporary. There is no guarantee that thousands of battle-hardened jihadists and other rebels will agree to retreat from the buffer zone under vague terms set by Erdogan and Putin. And even if they do, civilians elsewhere in Idlib will still be in danger when Assad makes his move. A humanitarian disaster in Idlib has been delayed, but it hasn’t been averted.

The bigger picture: What’s more, as Syria’s horrific civil war grinds towards its conclusion, the country will remain a battleground of competing geopolitical interests, with Russia, Iran, Turkey, the US, Israel, the Syrian government, the Kurds, and foreign-backed jihadists all jockeying for position ahead of any peace settlement. With so much military hardware rolling, shooting, sailing, and flying around a patchworked warzone, the risk of a miscalculation that blows up the powder keg are high: consider that on Monday a Russian reconnaissance plane was shot down by a Syrian missile that was actually aiming to hit an Israeli jet that had attacked Iranian forces. Untangle that and you see the problem.

Read more → Syria’s Final Battle

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

The long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over a region called Nagorno-Karabakh erupted over the weekend, with more than 50 killed (so far) in the fiercest fighting in years. Will it escalate into an all-out war that threatens regional stability and drags in major outside players?

More Show less

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

More Show less

Watch Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

A new war breaking out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, not a new conflict. They've been fighting over contested territory that used to be a part of the Azeri Soviet Socialist Republic. Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region. It was taken by the Armenians. It's a mostly Armenian enclave in terms of population. It's been contested since that military fight. There's been ongoing negotiations. The Azeris a number of months ago tried some shelling. They got pasted. This time around, it's war and for a few reasons.

More Show less

Join us tomorrow, September 29th, at 11 am ET for a GZERO Town Hall livestream event, Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic, to learn about the latest in the global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch here at 11am ET: https://www.gzeromedia.com/events/town-hall-ending-the-covid-19-pandemic-livestream/

Our panel will discuss where things really stand on vaccine development, the political and economic challenges of distribution, and what societies need to be focused on until vaccine arrives in large scale. This event is the second in a series presented by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group.

Apoorva Mandavilli, science & global health reporter for the New York Times, will moderate a conversation with:

  • Lynda Stuart, Deputy Director, Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
  • Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Gayle E. Smith, President & CEO, ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development

Add to Calendar


Sign up here to get alerts about future GZERO Media events.

UNGA banner

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal