As President Trump and Vladimir Putin were meeting in Hamburg, this story has hit the wires:
U.S. officials say the United States and Russia have reached an agreement for a cease-fire in southwest Syria.
The cease-fire is set to take effect July 9 at noon Damascus time. Word of the cease-fire has emerged as President Donald Trump is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There are several key things to keep in mind here.
1. The area covered is that area where Hezbollah, Iranian militias, the Assad regime, and militias who are nominally our allies are all jostling for advantage. This does not cover the area occupied by ISIS.
2. This is the area where we have launched, by my count, three separate attacks on Iranian back militias encroaching upon an area where US and UK SOF are training anti-Assad Syrians.
Beyond that, we don’t know what this means. Does it mean that the US and Russia are stopping military operations by their own forces in the area? Or does it apply to Assad, and everyone else? Past deals have involved the Syrian regime, Iran, and Turkey, this effort doesn’t seem to have brought them in. Though it does seem to support a local cease fire
#BREAKING MoD: Syrian Army announces cease-fire for 3 days in Daraa, Quneitra, and Swaida In order to support the national reconciliation.
— Majd Fahd 🇸🇾 (@Syria_Protector) July 3, 2017
My guess is that it means that the US and Russia have decided to stop playing silly fighter pilot games because the risk of a shootdown of a US or Russian aircraft is simply too high. It should also be viewed in the context of the G20 meeting between Trump and Putin. It is a small step to a more cooperative relationship between the US and Russia in Syria and it is something sorta tangible that Trump can take away from his Putin meeting.
It is hard to believe this agreement will be noticed on the ground.