Turkish defence minister discusses Idlib with Russian counterpart

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar spoke on Monday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, on measures to be taken in Syria following the collapse of a cease-fire in Idlib after the Assad regime's attack on a Turkish observation point in the province.

The Turkish military on Saturday sent reinforcements to an observation post in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib near Zawiya after it was targeted by regime forces last week, leaving three Turkish soldiers wounded. 

The Syrian opposition’s last stronghold, Idlib, has been a major source of dispute between the seemingly staunch allies in the Syrian conflict, Turkey and Russia.

The attack followed a Russian military report on Wednesday that Ankara and Moscow had brokered a complete ceasefire in Idlib between Syrian government forces and rebels.

Akar and Shoigu spoke over the phone on steps that would ensure stability and preserve the cease-fire and peace in the region, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency said.

Ankara and Moscow in September agreed to prevent a military assault of the Syrian government in Idlib, home to 3 million people, half of whom are internally displaced.

The deal stipulated that Turkey would remove extremist fighters such as those belonging to the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) from the envisaged demilitarised buffer zone. However, Moscow has accused Turkey of failing to fulfill its role in the agreement.