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Erdogan, Putin announce Idlib’s ceasefire after Moscow meeting | News about Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin has announced a military ceasefire in Idlib to begin Thursday at midnight after a six-hour meeting in Moscow.

Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria, has witnessed an increase in violence and bloodshed since last December, the start of a Syrian offensive supported by Russia to regain control over the region that led Turkey to send thousands of troops in the province to repel the Syrian army.

“At 00.01 tonight, as at midnight, the ceasefire will take place,” Erdogan told reporters in Moscow.


Erdogan added that Turkey would not “remain silent” about attacks by Syrian government forces and warned Ankara that it will take revenge against any assault with full force.

For his part, Putin said that Russia does not always agree with its Turkish partners, but expressed the hope that the agreement will end civilian suffering and help contain a humanitarian crisis.

Since last December, over 300 civilians, including over 100 children, have been killed in Idlib while nearly one million Syrians have been internally displaced on the border with Turkey, which the United Nations has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the nine years of the Syria civil war.

Most have struggled to find adequate shelter and many families are forced to camp outside.

Until the last crisis, Putin and Erdogan had managed to coordinate their interests in Syria even if Moscow supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Ankara supported the opposition forces.

Turkey and Russia have also agreed to establish a safe corridor along one of the main east-west highways in the Syrian Idlib and to organize joint patrols starting March 15.

In a joint statement read by the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers, the two sides said the safe corridor will extend 6 km (3.7 miles) north and 6 km south of the M4 highway.

They said their defense ministers would agree on corridor parameters within a week.

The joint patrols will begin along the M4 from the settlement of Trumba, just west of the strategic city of Saraqeb, and will run towards the settlement of Ain al Havr.

Putin News Conference- - MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 5: President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and President of Russia Vladimir Putin (R) shake hands after the joint press conference after

Erdogan, left, and President of Russia Vladimir Putin shake hands after the joint press conference after the meeting in Moscow, Russia, March 5, 2020 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu]

Syria’s Al-Assad – which gave an interview to state news channel Russia 24 broadcast on Thursday – accused the Turkish president of “supporting terrorists”.

“Erdogan is unable to tell the Turks why he is sending his army to fight in Syria and why his soldiers are killed there because the problem has nothing to do with Turkish interests but with his Muslim Brotherhood ideology” al-Assad said.

“The Syrian people, as we have seen mainly in the army, have the legendary ability to sacrifice. The fact that our friends Russia and Iran resisted with us played an essential role in our stamina.”

Putin expressed his condolences in Erdogan on Thursday for the Turkish casualties in a Syrian airstrike, but noted that there were also casualties among Syrian forces.

Another Turkish soldier died in an attack on Idlib on Thursday, bringing the number of Turkish soldiers killed since early February to 59.

After Turkey shot down several Syrian jets, Moscow warned Ankara that its planes would not be safe if they entered Syrian airspace – a veiled threat to pledge Russian military resources to Syria.

Opposition activists in Idlib blamed Russian planes for a strike on Thursday in a village held by rebels, who they believed killed at least 15 people, including children, and injured many others.

The Russian military did not make immediate comments on the complaint, but firmly rejected similar earlier claims by insisting that it did not target residential areas.

Despite Thursday’s turning point, hopes for peace among some Syrians remain low.

Raja Androon, a 65-year-old Syrian from Idlib whose two children were killed by Syrian government forces, now lives in Antakya, southern Turkey.

“The talks may involve fewer fights, but I’m not holding my breath for the Syrian regime to leave Idlib,” he told Al Jazeera. “I hope Idlib ends up under autonomous rule and does not fall under Assad’s control.”

According to the White Helmets, 612 Syrian civilians have been killed by government forces and their allies since the beginning of this year.

With the report of Linah Alsaafin in Antioch.

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