Turkish military and intelligence chiefs discuss Idlib in border province

Turkey’s top defence and intelligence officials met on Saturday in the southern border province of Hatay to discuss the latest developments in the Syrian province of Idlib, the last major rebel-held enclave in the country, Anadolu Agency reported.

Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler, Land Forces Commander Ümit Dündar, and Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan exchanged views on the measures to be taken to maintain the ceasefire in Idlib in accordance with a Turkish-Russian deal made in September

“All types of efforts have been made to maintain the ceasefire and stability under the Sochi agreement. Our close cooperation with Russia continues in this manner," Minister Akar said. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 17 announced in Sochi an agreement to create a demilitarised buffer zone in Idlib to be patrolled by Turkish and Russian soldiers. 

The deal gave Russia the responsibility of taking measures to avoid an attack of the Syrian government on Idlib, while Turkey was given the task of removing radical rebel groups from the demilitarised zone to be established.

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.

The Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) this week agreed a deal ending fighting with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a jihadist coalition led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate. The deal strengthened the jihadi fighters’ grip on the last major rebel-held enclave in Syria, while casting doubts about the future of the Turkish-Russian deal.

Both Turkish and Russian officials said this week that they were continuing to implement the Sochi agreement.