Putin: Demilitarized zone for Syria's Idlib to be created

Putin: Demilitarized zone for Syria's Idlib to be created

Putin: Demilitarized zone for Syria's Idlib to be created

Russian Federation said on Monday there will be no new military operation against rebels in Idlib by Syrian government forces and their allies after president Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan said the Idlib buffer zone was crucial to preventing a "big humanitarian crisis".

Syria still determined to wipe out Al-Nusra Front: A key part of Monday's deal appeared to be Turkey agreeing to order the evacuation of Al-Nusra Front forces from Idlib.

The zone will be between 15-20km deep along the front between the rebels and regime troops and will be in place by October 15, Mr Putin said after the talks in the Russian city of Sochi.

Turkey's president Erdogan said that his country will carry out coordinated patrols in the demilitarised zone in Idlib with the Russians.

Before the end of the year, roads between Aleppo and Hama, and Aleppo and Latakia must be reopened for transit traffic, he said.

Turkey has been eager to prevent an assault by Syrian government troops in the province.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the agreement between Putin and Erdogan meant no military action would be taken against Idlib, Russian news agencies reported.

The plan is major landmark for Syria, where the standoff in the last militant stronghold of Idlib has threatened to turn into a major worldwide crisis in recent weeks.

He noted that Turkey's goal is to resolve the Syrian crisis as soon as possible, in particular the crisis in Idlib.


Mr Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rebuffed his call for a ceasefire at a summit in Tehran on September 7, which was followed a day later by heavy Russian and regime bombardment in Idlib, raising fears that a regime attack was imminent. Shoigu was speaking after the Russian and Turkish presidents agreed on the creation of the zone in the troubled Syrian region.

Tanks and other hardware, with a convoy of 50 military vehicles, were sent over the border Sunday, according to the Hurriyet daily.

Retaking Idlib could spell victory for President Bashar al-Assad, but would also unleash a humanitarian disaster for the province's 3 million or more inhabitants.

Russia's military support for the Syrian government has helped reverse years of rebel gains. It has said a large-scale offensive against the rebels could trigger a mass exodus towards its border.

Russian and Syrian air strikes, artillery fire and barrel bomb attacks have killed more than 30 civilians across the province in the past month, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"We have a lot of issues to discuss, including hard ones", Putin said at the start of the talks at his residence in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

Erdogan is accompanied by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, head of National Intelligence Service (MIT) Hakan Fidan, Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Presidency Communications Director Fahrettin Altun.

Putin also said Russia's main worry is attacks on its military bases in Syria, which are sporadically hit by Turkey-backed rebels.

The Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, when the Assad regime launched a vicious crackdown on pro-democracy protests that evolved into a complex conflict involving jihadists and world powers.

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