Oct 10 2018

Russia announces delay in Syria Idlib buffer zone

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday there could be a few days delay in setting up the demilitarised buffer zone in Syria’s Idlib province that was slated to be implemented by Oct. 15, Russian Sputnik news reported.

Russia and Turkey reached an agreement on Sept. 17 to avert an expected Syrian government offensive against the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, which could have led to one of the worst humanitarian disasters of Syria's seven-year conflict. Moscow and Ankara agreed to patrol a demilitarised buffer zone between the government and rebel-held areas.

Under the deal, all rebels in the buffer zone are to withdraw heavy armaments and radical groups must leave by Oct. 15.

"The agreements pertaining to Idlib between Russia and Turkey are being implemented. Our Turkish partners, who are ensuring that all organisations in the area cooperate during this process, are playing a key role in the region. The information we have received confirms that the process is coming along,’’ Lavrov said. He said there could be a two to three-day delay in activating the buffer zone.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Syrian rebels finished withdrawing all their heavy weapons from the front lines around Idlib on Monday.