Friday, 18 October, 2019

Russia, Turkey agree to demilitarised zone around Idlib

No caption Russia And Turkey Agree On A Demilitarized Zone In Syria's Last Rebel Stronghold
Patty Aguilar | 17 September, 2018, 21:36

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Turkish and Russian soldiers will be patrolling the zone to ensure it is respected.

He agreed with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the buffer zone during a more than four hour meeting in Sochi, southern Russian Federation.

The agreement is created to prevent a new "humanitarian crisis" in Syria, Erdogan stressed, and will help Turkey to avoid an even more "difficult situation".

Turkey is seeking to avert a widely anticipated Syrian regime offensive on Idlib, the last rebel stronghold where more than 3 million civilians are at risk.

Russian Federation and Iran are backing Bashar al Assad in Syria's civil war. "But we are still not satisfied".

Meanwhile, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said there will be no new military operation on Idlib by Syrian government forces and their allies, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

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Erdoğan and Putin's meeting was their second in just 10 days after Russian Federation and Iran expressed support for the idea of an offensive on Idlib.

The meeting at the Black Sea city of Sochi is the second in less than two weeks between Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, after they failed to strike a deal over Idlib in a meeting in Iran earlier this month.

Idlib is one of the de-escalation zones as part of the Astana format.

"Turkey offered Putin a ladder with which to climb down from the tree, threatening a military offensive in Idlib that had little chance for success", Ramadan said in a series of text messages with The Associated Press. "Turkey is in a strong position". The zone will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian military units. But some 60 percent of its territory is controlled by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group, regarded as a successor to the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.

The United Nations and non-governmental organizations have repeatedly warned that such an offensive would unleash a "bloodbath" and "humanitarian catastrophe" in Idlib, which is home to three million people. At the same time, it has sent reinforcements to its troops ringing Idlib, a move created to ward off a ground assault, at least for now.

It was quiet in Idlib and surrounding areas Monday, a continuation of the calm that started less than a week ago amid Russia-Turkey talks.

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