Turkey, Russia launch joint patrols in Syria’s Idlib

Turkish and Russian troops has started joint military patrols in Syria's northwestern Idlib region, Turkish defence minister said on Friday, state-run Anadolu Agency reported

In a trilateral summit on Feb. 14 in the Russian resort of Sochi, Turkey, Russia and Iran had agreed on Turkish army’s patrols in Idlib’s de-escalation zone, Anadolu said.

“We see joint patrols carried out by Turkey and Russia in Syria's Idlib as an important step for the continuation of the ceasefire and ensuring stability," Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told Anadolu.

According to Akar, the Turkish army will hold patrols in the demilitarised zone of Idlib while Russian army will be patrolling outside of the city. Turkey has 12 observatory points in Idlib’s de-escalation zone while Russia has 10 points.

Ankara and Moscow struck a deal in mid-September preventing an attack on the rebels in Idlib by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. Turkey agreed to create a demilitarised buffer zone and remove extremist fighters from groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) as part of the deal.

Turkey also promised to open nearby highways that link Syria's coastal province of Latakia to the main northern city of Aleppo by the end of 2018.