Russia and Turkey agreed to enforce demilitarisation of Idlib’s security buffer zone

Russia and Turkey pledged to implement decisive countermeasures to secure the demilitarised zone around the city of Idlib in northwestern Syria. In a joint statement issued on Monday, both parties did not provide additional details about the intended course of action but promised to resolve the situation in due course. The joint statement was issued moments after the successful meeting in Ankara of Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu with his Turkish colleague Hulusi Akar.

The agreement of both allies in September 2018 deliberations envisioned the creation of a security buffer zone in the periphery of the strategic importance city of Idlib. The demilitarised zone would facilitate exodus and pinning down of revolutionary groups in the city and help restore normalcy in the city. Ankara had then pledged to disarm the Hayat Tahrir Al Sham cell from the city, a former Al Qaeda affiliate organisation. The Russian security forces in return pledged not to initiate an offensive against the cell’s militias in an attempt to restrict collateral damage and civilian casualties in Idlib.

The recent statement comes in anticipation of the Second Syria Summit expected to be held this week in the Russian resort of Sochi between the three protagonists of the Syrian conflict. The demilitarised zone will surely top the agenda of deliberations between the heads of Ankara, Moscow and Tehran in the forthcoming summit, with parties deciding on measures to enforce compliance with last September’s agreement. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov had recently argued that more than 70% of the demilitarised zone in Idlib’s periphery is populated by heavily armed militias from Tahrir Al Sham and other affiliated organisations.

 

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