Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on Friday, that Turkish and Russian officials have agreed on the Idlib’s cease-fire details, and that they will organize joint patrols on the main “M4” road from Sunday.
Akar also indicated that there are signs of discontinuation of displacement in the area subject to the agreement and that the return of displaced people to it has begun. He revealed that Turkey and Russia will set up joint focal points to monitor the agreement implementation after completing talks with Russian officials in Ankara.
He added, “We hope that the armistice will be transformed into a permanent agreement quickly.”
A Russian delegation arrived in Ankara on Tuesday for talks on the agreement details. A Turkish security official told Reuters that the talks with the Russians, which were scheduled to end on Thursday, will end on Friday, describing them as “positive”.
The Turkish official stressed that the Turkish observation centers in the Idlib area remain in place and perform their duties despite the cordon of the Syrian regime forces, after a week of an agreement between Ankara and Moscow to cease-fire there.
Turkey and Russia agreed on March 5th, to stop fighting in the Idlib region in northwest Syria, after the violence escalation led to the displacement of about one million people and the two sides approached the brink of confrontation.
The agreement addresses Turkey’s main concerns of stemming the migrants’ flow and preventing further Turkish soldiers’ deaths, but it also reinforces recent gains by Assad’s forces and leaves the Turkish sites besieged. About 60 Turkish soldiers have been killed in clashes in the region since last month, but the ceasefire has largely held since March 5th.
Turkey has set up 12 military observation posts in the Idlib region under an agreement with Russia concluded in 2018, but many of these sites are now in areas controlled by Assad’s forces. Ankara had previously warned that it would expel the regime forces from the region if it did not withdraw but has yet to do so.
In this context, a Turkish security official told Reuters: “There are no disputes over the observation posts. There are also violations (of the ceasefire) against the observation posts … The observation centers will continue to perform their duties,” adding that no heavy weapons or Equipment will be withdrawn from there.
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