The six hours of talks resulted in a ceasefire agreement, but the agreement left a number of critical issues unclear. Observing what is happening on the ground is now the way to assess whether these problems have been solved or how. On August 1, 2019, after several months of intense fighting between the government and rebel forces, the Syrian government announced a unilateral ceasefire conditional on the rebels complying with the initial demilitarization conditions of 2018.   According to reports, most of the rebel groups accepted the offer.   Shortly after the ceasefire came into effect, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham stated that they would categorically refuse to leave an area under their control, which was an essential requirement of both the original agreement and the conditional ceasefire.   The next day, the government announced the end of the ceasefire and the resumption of military operations, citing the refusal of rebel groups to withdraw from the area as a reason for the ceasefire`s failure.   A considerable part of the DMZ`s territory was then conquered by the Syrian army and its allies in the final phase of the offensive. Another ceasefire was announced in late August, confirming the government`s benefits. Some rebel groups, meanwhile, have expressed their refusal to comply with the agreement and withdraw from the remaining “demilitarized” zones, signaling that the agreement would not be revived.
 The pro-government al-Watan newspaper also reported that the agreement would end with the return of government institutions to Idlib after rebel groups withdrew from residential areas.  Earlier, at a joint press conference, Putin said the deal would “serve as a good basis for ending the fighting” in Idlib. In the end, this agreement could still prove to be a temporary respite before a definitive confrontation in Idlib. Nevertheless, there is at least some hope – however ephemeral and fragile it may be – of averting a real humanitarian catastrophe. International actors trying to end the conflict in Syria should consider whether Russia`s apparent reversal, after weeks of escalating rhetoric, signals Moscow`s further shift from military solutions and to more consensual negotiated solutions for areas of Syria still outside Damascus` control. Of the four de-escalation zones declared in May 2017, Idlib is the last still standing. Between March and July, Russia helped the Syrian regime take over the other three using a mixture of overwhelming military force and negotiated surrenders. [fn] For an overview of how Russia enabled the regime`s victory, cf. Obeida al-Hamawi, “Northern Homs: The story of reconciliation` with Kinana Hweija and the Russian officer (Arabic), Al-Modon, No. 3.
May 2018; Khaled al-Zuabi, “Daraa: Individual agreements with unclear terms” (Arabic), Al-Modon, July 17, 2018.Hide footnote Russia has reasons to seek an agreement with Turkey; The ongoing talks between Moscow and Ankara indicate that both sides are following such an option. They do so because an offensive offensive by the regime could not be carried out without a significant political cost to Moscow. The Syrian regime`s reconquest of Idlib would effectively mark its victory over the country`s rebellion, but Russia`s military intervention in 2015 also had a political purpose: Russia is trying not only to ensure the regime`s military victory in Syria, but also its full political recovery through international relegitimization at the end of the war and its economic recovery through the reconstruction fund provided by the West.