Russia, Turkey agree to demilitarised zone around Idlib

Russia, Turkey agree to demilitarised zone around Idlib

Before the memorandum was signed by the Russian and Turkish defense ministries, Russian President Putin stated that he agreed with Turkish leader Erdogan to set up a 15-20 kilometers (9.3-12.4 miles) demilitarized zone along the contact line between Syrian government troops and the armed opposition by October 15. There are about 3 million civilians in Idlib.

Mr Putin said the agreement was that all heavy weapons be withdrawn from the zone, and that "radically-minded" rebels, including the Nusra front, would have to pull out of the zone.

He later said that the terror-labeled groups should turn in their weapons, and this specific detail seemed like another opportunity taken by Turkey to try to do something ahead of the anticipated military operation in Idlib, which is fully backed and supported by Iran and Russian Federation, both are the key allies of the Syrian government.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between Latakia and Aleppo as well as Latakia and Hama must be restored, Putin added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor has previously said that Turkey attempted to pressure the LLC to dissolve itself but to no avail.

The United Nations has warned that a full offensive on Idlib would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century". Turkey has repeatedly called for a ceasefire to avert a possible attack.

Earlier this month, Erdogan met with Putin, along with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at a trilateral summit in Tehran.

Tanks and other hardware, with a convoy of 50 military vehicles, were sent over the border Sunday, according to the Hurriyet daily. Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has helped quell the rebellion. Turkey however backs opposition fighters seeking the ouster of the Syrian leader. Turkey also said it feared that an attack on the rebel bastion would trigger a mass exodus across it borders.

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Why Idlib has become importantWho controls idlib?

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department said it welcomed any honest effort to reduce violence in Syria and hoped de-escalation in Idlib made permanent.

In the provincial capital, Idlib city, and in towns including Kafranbel, Dana, Azaz, Maaret al-Numan and al-Bab, demonstrators filled the streets after noon prayers and chanted against Assad, raising the tri-color green, white and black flag that has become the banner of Syria's 2011 uprising, activists said. Syria's rebels despise Russian Federation for its support for Assad, who has been in power since his father, Hafez al-Assad, died in 2000.

Assad wants to recover "every inch" of Syria. "This will only create new hotbeds of terrorism and extremism", Erdogan wrote. Thousands of foreign fighters, from China, Europe and the Middle East, are the backbone of the radical groups.

Why it matters to opposition?

The UN said more than 30,000 people have already been displaced inside Syria by airstrikes on Idlib in recent weeks.

"In order to give people in Idlib peace of mind then, this agreement needs to be built upon by the global powers working together to find a lasting political solution that protects civilians", Bramwell said.

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