Erdoğan pledged Putin to dissolve armed extremist groups in Syria's Idlib - reports

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the last meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, promised to terminate armed jihadist groups deemed as extremists within 8 days, Iranian Fars News Agency reported on Sunday, citing al-Watan newspaper.

Ankara and Moscow had agreed in September 2018 to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib to prevent a possible offensive by Syrian forces against the last major rebel-held enclave in the country.

The Turkish military established 12 observation posts in the region as part of the deal.

Moscow has accused Ankara of failing to fulfil its part of the deal, which specified that jihadist groups deemed as extremists should be removed from the de-escalation zone.

The offensive by Assad’s forces and supported by Russia has intensified over the last month, pinning rebels back and leaving Turkish observation posts. Airstrikes have reportedly targeted areas near two more of the Turkish-manned posts.

Al-Watan's sources within the National Liberation Front and Tahrir al-Sham said that the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Syrian army on Saturday was also in line with the recent Moscow-Ankara agreement.

Following Syrian government's attacks, thousands of Syrians have joined demonstrations at settlements in Idlib and near the border. One group filmed themselves burning a flag bearing Erdoğan's image.