Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come to Moscow on Thursday to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over recent escalations in Syria’s Idlib province. The tensions in the area have recently led to the deaths of over 30 Turkish soldiers, prompting Ankara to target Syrian troops in response.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced after six hours of bilateral talks on 5 March that they have negotiated a preliminary agreement to resolve the ongoing conflict in northwestern Syria. Here is the list of main points which the two major regional players have agreed upon:

  • A ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib province will start at 00:01 on 6 March.
  • Russia and Turkey will start joint patrols on the M4 highway in Syria. The patrolling will take place from the settlement of Tronba, located 2km west of the strategic town of Saraqib, to the settlement of Ain al Havr.
  • A 12-km security corridor for Syria’s Idlib province will be established to the north and to the south of the highway. “The specific parameters of the functioning of the security corridor will be agreed upon by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the Turkish Republic within seven days”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
  • Both countries agreed on efforts to prevent further aggravation of the humanitarian situation in Syria.
  • All additional protocols to the document will come into force from the moment of its signature on 5 March.

     

The situation in Syria’s Idlib province has recently escalated, descending into fighting between Syrian government forces and militants, resulting in the deaths of over 30 Turkish troops last week. Ankara responded by launching "Operation Spring Shield" and hitting Syrian forces and equipment. 

According to the Russian military, the Turkish troops were not supposed to be present in the area fired upon by Syrian forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin also later said that nobody, including the Syrian army, knew about the Turkish troops' whereabouts.

UN Chief Hopes Russia-Turkey Deal on Idlib to Lead to Lasting Ceasefire - Spokesperson

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hopes that the Moscow-Ankara agreement to deescalate tensions in Syria’s Idlib will result in a lasting ceasefire in the province, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

"The Secretary-General hopes that this agreement will lead to an immediate and lasting cessation of hostilities that ensures the protection of civilians in northwest Syria, who have already endured enormous suffering", Dujarric said on Thursday.

As a result of six-hour-long talks in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed on a ceasefire in Idlib, which will start at midnight.

According to the document, the ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib province will start at 00:01 on 6 March. Russia and Turkey will start joint patrols on the M4 highway, it reads. The agreement also stipulates that a 12-km security corridor for Syria’s Idlib province will be established to the north and to the south of the highway.

The Turkish government launched 'Operation Spring Shield' last week after Syrian Army attacks on terrorist positions killed dozens of Turkish troops in Idlib. According to Moscow, the Turkish soldiers were operating amongst al-Nusra* militants. Ankara later claimed its army had "neutralised" up to 300 Syrian soldiers.

US senator: Erdogan on right side in Idlib deadlock

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio backed Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday amid an ongoing offensive in Syria’s Idlib province.    

Turkish troops have come under attack in recent weeks by Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the province, the scene of an offensive by regime forces backed by Russia.

On Twitter, Rubio, a Florida Republican, said the “prospects of a direct military confrontation between Turkey and Russia in Syria are very high & increasing by the hour.” 

“Erdogan is on the right side here,” he wrote, referring to the deadlock where hundreds of Syrians are on the brink of being killed or displaced.  

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Assad are responsible for the “horrific humanitarian catastrophe” in Idlib. 

According to UN officials, some 900,000 people have been displaced by the offensive since December.  

In the latest attack, a total of 29 Turkish troops were martyred by an airstrike in Idlib, and Turkey has vowed to retaliate against the “illegitimate” Syrian regime, said the country’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun.