Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Two years, ten months and fifteen days have passed since the start of the first version of the “Astana” talks between the regime government and the Syrian “opposition”, which took place on the 23rd and 24th of January 2017. Over that period, Syrian territory has undergone tremendous shifts, as these talks became the starting point through which Russia, with the help of Turkey, succeeded in bringing back most of the Syrian territory under the control of the “Syrian regime,” so that Russia and Turkey awarded the regime of Bashar al-Assad what it failed to have over the course of years before those talks began.
According to the statistics of the SOHR, by January 2017, the area under the control of the Syrian “regime” did not exceed 35944 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 19.4% of the total area of the Syrian territory, while the SDF controlled 34230 square kilometers in total 18.5%. Back then, the lion’s share of the control was that of the Islamic State, which then controlled 79,293 square kilometers, or 42.8% of the total Syrian territory, while the Islamic factions and fighters, the “Euphrates Shield” and Western-backed factions controlled 35,713 square kilometers, or 19.3% of the total Syrian territory.
However the talks were supposed to be aimed at resolving the crisis and focusing primarily on stabilizing the ceasefire; it turned into an outlet for both Russia and Turkey to establish regime control over Syrian territory through agreements reached under the auspices of Russia and Turkey, until the regime forces and factions by November 6, seized control of a total area of 132,750 square kilometers, equivalent to 71.7% of the total Syrian territory, while the SDF now controls 29,275 square kilometers of Syrian territory, or 15.7%. The Islamic State’s control was limited to 3283 square km, 1.8% of the total Syrian territory. The Islamic factions and fighters, “HTS”, “Euphrates Shield”, “Olive Branch”, “Spring of Peace” and US-backed factions now control 19871.2 square kilometers, or 10.8% of the total area of Syria, according to the statistics of Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
13 rounds of “Astana” talks held in less than 3 years, all of which led to establishing de-escalation zones initially under the guarantee of Russia, Turkey and Iran. These guarantors quickly became a means by which the “regime” regains Syrian territory under its control, starting from the Ghouta of Damascus, Passing through” Aleppo, Hama, Homs” and “Idlib,” which is witnessing an intensified escalation in the recent period despite the agreement to reduce escalation, where intensified regime planes and Russian warplanes are targeting the region, amid threats to storm the city to regain control of it. And finally, the Regime has now controlled north and northeast of Syria, which was subject to a Russian-Turkish agreement which led to the entry of regime forces to many areas for the first time in 7 years. According to a Russian-Turkish agreement, regime forces deployed in the eastern countryside of al-Qamishli for the first time in seven years, along the area extending from Qamishli to al-Qahtaniya by more than 20 kilometers, According a Russian-Turkish-American agreement that brought back most of northern and northeastern Syria to the Regime’s control in accordance with an agreement the SDF that has been signed with the regime and Russia in order to counter the Turkish military operation “Peace Spring”. The Syrian Observatory also monitored the deployment of regime forces throughout the western countryside of Darbasiyah, north of Aburasin (Zarkan), Ain Issa, Ain al-Arab (Kobani) and Manbij countryside.