Published: Mon, September 17, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Russia, Turkey agree to demilitarised zone around Idlib

Russia, Turkey agree to demilitarised zone around Idlib

"The situation in Idlib has been calm for three days".

The leaders of Russian Federation and Turkey on Monday announced that a deep demilitarized zone will be established in Syria's Idlib region, the last bastion of anti-government rebels where fears had been high of a devastating offensive by government forces. The zone would be patrolled by Turkish and Russian forces.

The zone would be free of both heavy weapons and more extreme elements of the armed insurgency, both leaders said.

Moscow may be open to such a plan as long as it would secure the Aleppo-Damascus highway and put an end to drone attacks launched from Idlib against Russia's Hmeimim air base in the neighboring province of Latakia, the analyst said.

The deal and other issues of Russian-Turkish ties apparently took nearly 5 hours to hammer out. "But together with Russian Federation we will make efforts to clear these territories of radical elements", Erdogan said.

"Bombarding Idlib can lead to a humanitarian crisis, therefore it is unacceptable", Cavusoglu said. He had previously warned of a surge in refugees hitting the country should a full-blown war break out in Idlib.

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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.

Abu Omar, a spokesman for the Turkey-backed rebel group Faylaq al-Sham, thanked Erdogan for saving Idlib from an offensive and give the rebels time to defend their rebellion and people.

This turned out to be a dilemma for Ankara, with Turkish president simultaneously anxious about Russian Federation and Syrian action weakening the rebel groups, but also having concerns over the spread of terrorists and the potential influx of new refugees into areas bordering Turkey.

While backing separate sides, Turkey, Russia, and Iran launched a negotiations process past year in the Kazakh capital, Astana, mainly dealing with battlefield issues, such as cease-fires and deescalation zones.

Russian Federation calls Idlib a hotbed of terrorism and says the Syrian government has the right to retake control of it. Turkey has appealed to Russian Federation and Iran for a diplomatic resolution to the ticking bomb.

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