Turkey, Middle East

Turkey: Talks with Russia on Idlib, Syria 'positive'

Turkish defense chief says joint patrol with Russia in Idlib, northwestern Syria planned for March 15

Sarp Ozer   | 11.03.2020
Turkey: Talks with Russia on Idlib, Syria 'positive'


Talks between Turkish and Russian military officials on starting joint patrols in Idlib, northwestern Syria under the cease-fire deal reached last week are making progress, said Turkey’s defense chief on Wednesday.

"The negotiations continue in a positive and constructive way," Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in the Turkish capital Ankara. 

"On March 15, we plan and are working to start a joint patrol along the M4 highway," the center of a 12-kilometer security zone, Akar added.

Later, in a Twitter post, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that today's meeting between the Turkish and Russian military delegations ended. "Talks will continue tomorrow," the ministry added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week agreed on a new cease-fire for Idlib starting on March 5. 

Under the deal, all military activities are to end in Idlib with the establishment of a security corridor 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the north and south of the key M4 highway. 

Joint Turkish-Russian patrols will also begin on March 15 along the highway from the settlement of Trumba – 2 km (1.2 miles) to the west of Saraqib – to the settlement of Ain al-Havr, under the deal. 

Turkey launched Operation Spring Shield on Feb. 27 after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred in an Assad regime airstrike in Idlib province, and after repeated violations of previous cease-fires. 

Under a 2018 deal with Russia, the Turkish troops were in Idlib to protect civilians from attacks by the regime and terrorist groups. 

Idlib is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country. 

In recent months, upwards of a million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks by the Assad regime and its allies.

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