Syria welcomes Turkish-Russian deal on Idlib’s demilitarized zone

Syria welcomes Turkish-Russian deal on Idlib’s demilitarized zone

DAMASCUS (Rahnuma): The Syrian Foreign Ministry Tuesday said the Syrian government welcomes the Russian-Turkish deal on establishing a demilitarized zone in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, said state news agency SANA.

The ministry said the deal came after “intensive consultations” and full coordination between the Russian and Syrian side.

The deal of establishing a buffer zone between the positions of the Syrian government forces and the rebels in Idlib was declared after a summit between the leaders of Russia and Turkey, who met in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Monday.

During a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the demilitarization zone will be established by Oct. 15. It will be created along the contact line of the armed opposition and the government forces with a depth of 15 to 20 km.

The radical rebels will withdraw from the demilitarized zone along with heavy weapons.

The deal was a surprising one as it came days after the leaders of Iran, Russia, and Turkey held a tripartite summit in Tehran during which the Iranian and Russian leaders rebuffed a Turkish call for a cease-fire in Idlib, which is the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

The Syrian army has been sending reinforcement to the frontline areas around Idlib as part of preparations to launch a wide-scale offensive to retake Idlib, where 3 million civilians live along with an estimated number of 50,000 rebels, including al-Qaida-linked ones.

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