נשיא טורקיה רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן עם נשיא רוסיה ולדימיר פוטין ב קרמלין מוסקבה דיון על המצב ב סוריה
Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Putin
Photo: AFP
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussing the current situation in Syria's Idlib

Russia, Turkey agree ceasefire deal for Syria's Idlib

Presidents convene in Moscow and declare truce starting midnight; Erdogan stresses right to respond to attacks by Syrian government in country's last rebel stronghold

Reuters |
Published: 03.05.20 , 21:34
Turkey and Russia have agreed on a ceasefire deal on Thursday in Syria's Idlib region, their two leaders said after lengthy talks in Moscow to contain a conflict which has displaced nearly a million people in three months.
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  • 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 rebel stronghold in the far northwest of the country.
    נשיא טורקיה רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן עם נשיא רוסיה ולדימיר פוטין ב קרמלין מוסקבה דיון על המצב ב סוריהנשיא טורקיה רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן עם נשיא רוסיה ולדימיר פוטין ב קרמלין מוסקבה דיון על המצב ב סוריה
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussing the current situation in Syria's Idlib
    (Photo: AFP)
    "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."
    Russia and Turkey back opposing sides in Syria's nine-year conflict, with Moscow supporting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Turkey backing some rebel groups. They have in recent years reached several ceasefire deals in Idlib which have collapsed.
    Russian airstrikes have propelled an offensive by Assad's forces in Idlib that 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.
    Refugees escaping the fighting in Idlib Refugees escaping the fighting in Idlib
    Refugees escaping the fighting in Idlib
    (Photo: AFP)
    The Russian military has, however, repeatedly played down any talk of a refugee crisis and accused Turkey of violating international law by pouring enough troops into Idlib to make up a mechanized division.
    Turkey, which has the second-largest army in the transatlantic NATO alliance, 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.
    Russia also raced to reinforce its troops in Syria by sea and air before the Putin-Erdogan talks.

    More deaths

    The Kremlin said the two leaders had spoken for three hours on their own before being joined by their officials.
    The two leaders also 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.
    מתקפת טורקיה על עמדות ב סוריה אידליב אחרימתקפת טורקיה על עמדות ב סוריה אידליב אחרי
    Turkish forces in Syria
    (Photo: AFP)
    In a joint statement read out by the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers, the two sides said the corridor would stretch 6 km to the north and 6 km to the south of the M4 - effectively advancing Russia's presence further north into Idlib.
    They said their defense ministers would agree on the parameters of the corridor within seven days.
    The fighting, which has raised the prospect of a direct clash between Russia and Turkey, has killed 60 Turkish troops in the region since last month, including the death of a Turkish soldier reported by a regional governor on Thursday.
    Putin expressed his regret to Erdogan about the recent killing of 34 Turkish troops in an airstrike, saying the Syrian military had not known of their location.
    Ahead of the talks, at least 16 civilians were killed when Russian airstrikes hit a gathering of displaced people near the town of Maarat Misrin in Idlib, according to civil defense workers helping clear the rubble and search for survivors.
    צבא סוריה צבא בשאר אסד ב חאלב חלבצבא סוריה צבא בשאר אסד ב חאלב חלב
    Syrian government troops in Aleppo
    (Photo: EPA)
    Russia denies targeting civilians.
    Two witnesses also reported seeing more Turkish military reinforcements deploying into Idlib, and Russia's RIA news agency said rebels had resumed shelling the strategic town of Saraqeb in Idlib where Russian military police are based.
    The Turkish defense ministry said it had destroyed four tanks, five rocket launchers and a dozen military vehicles in artillery and airstrikes in the last 24 hours.
    Turkey hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot handle more. Seeking to extract more funding and support from Europe over Idlib, Ankara said last week it would no longer abide by a 2016 deal in which it stopped migrants crossing into the European Union in return for billions of euros in aid.
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