Russia, Turkey to create buffer zone in Syria’s Idlib

Russian President  Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, above, agreed to create a “demilitarized zone” between militants and government troops in Syria’s Idlib after long talks on Monday, Russian media report.

The two leaders recognised the need to avert a crisis in the province of Idlib which has a strong presence of militant groups and their infrastructure.

To defuse the situation, they agreed to create a 15-20km wide demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15 after the full withdrawal of hardline militants including the Jabhat Al-Nusra from the area,

All heavy weaponry, including tanks and artillery, will be withdrawn from the zone before October 10, Putin said. The zone will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian military units.

Before the end of the year, roads between Aleppo and Hama, and Aleppo and Latakia must be reopened for transit traffic, he said.

The UN has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if the government launches an all-out assault to retake Idlib.

Soon after Putin and Erdogan agreed on the buffer zone, Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Shoigu said his country would not conduct any military operation in Idlib.