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Russia, Turkey agree ceasefire deal for Syria's Idlib

  • Published at 12:34 pm March 6th, 2020
Syrian army soldiers gesture in southern Idlib province, Syria in this handout released by SANA on March 5, 2020. SANA/Handout via REUTERS
Syrian army soldiers gesture in southern Idlib province, Syria in this handout released by SANA on March 5, 2020 Reuters

We will work together to supply aid for the Syrians in need, said Turkish President Erdogan

Turkey and Russia agreed a ceasefire deal on Thursday in Syria’s Idlib region, their two leaders said after talks in Moscow to contain a conflict which has displaced nearly a million people in three months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, standing next to his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, said he hoped their agreement would lead to a halt of military action in Syria’s last major rebel stronghold in the northwest of the country.

“I express hope that these agreements will serve as a good basis for a cessation of military activity in the Idlib de-escalation zone and stop the suffering of the peaceful population and the growing humanitarian crisis,” Putin said.

Erdogan told reporters the truce would come into effect at midnight on Thursday.

“We will work together to supply aid for the Syrians in need,” he said, adding that Turkey retained the right “to respond to all [Syrian] regime attacks in the field.”

History of the conflict

Russia and Turkey back opposing sides in Syria’s nine-year conflict, with Moscow supporting President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey backing some rebel groups.

Several previous deals to end the fighting in Idlib have collapsed.

The latest offensive in Idlib by Assad’s forces, backed by Russian air strikes, sparked what the United Nations says may be the worst humanitarian crisis yet in a war that has driven millions from their homes and killed hundreds of thousands.

Turkey has funneled troops and equipment into the region in recent weeks to resist the Syrian government advance and prevent a wave of refugees over its southern border.

What the deal entails 

The Kremlin said the two leaders had spoken for three hours on their own before being joined by their officials.

They agreed to establish a secure corridor near the M4 highway, which runs east to west through Idlib, and hold joint patrols along the road from March 15.

The Russian and Turkish defense ministers would agree on the parameters of the corridor within seven days.

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