Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Russian Federation and Turkey to create Syria buffer

Syrian engineers begin building underground hospitals Putin, Erdogan To Meet In Sochi For ‘Serious’ Talks On Syria’s Idlib
Lisa Bryan | 18 September, 2018, 08:14

"I believe our joint statement following this meeting will give the region a new hope", President Erdogan reportedly said, adding, "At the moment, I believe, not only our region but also the world is looking at Sochi today".

But even as Turkey appeared to be boxed in, some analysts said that Erdogan had in fact been bolstered by support from Europe and the United States.

"But together with Russian Federation, we will put our efforts into clearing those territories of radical elements", he said.

He said the nature of the demilitarized zone and how it would be implemented are not yet clear.

But on Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the anticipated military offensive in Idlib was not on the agenda anymore.

All heavy military equipment tanks, ground-to-air missiles and mortars of all the opposition groups will be removed by October 10, the leaders said.

Relations between Turkey and Russian Federation, economy and energy issues, as well as regional and global issues, particularly Syria, were among the topics that were discussed.

Idlib is strategically important for both Russian Federation and Turkey.

Moscow and Tehran have given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crucial support throughout the war, which began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011. The former wants to eliminate Syria's opposition, help the government retake territory and convince European and other powers to help reconstruct the country. Despite coming under nearly non-stop bombardment for several years, the area is still home to some 3 million Syrians, around 60,000 of whom are believed to be rebel fighters.


Among the estimated 60,000 opposition fighters in Idlib are at least 10,000 radicals affiliated with the al-Qaida-linked group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee).

The UN has urged the conflict's top powerbrokers - Russia, fellow regime ally Iran, and rebel backer Turkey - to engage in talks to avoid a "bloodbath" in Idlib.

Residents' fears have been heightened by Russian and Syria air strikes, artillery fire and barrel bombs that have killed dozens in Idlib province in the past month.

Washington, which has been largely absent from efforts to resolve the conflict, warned last week that Russian Federation would be to blame if Syria caused mass civilian suffering in Idlib.

Erdogan described the agreement as a "solution" to the issues in the region.

He failed to persuade Russian Federation and Iran to agree to a cease-fire at a summit in Tehran on September 7.

"We seem to have achieved a result from the initiatives we undertook", Erdogan told reporters on Sunday, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Ankara has established a dozen military observation posts around Idlib, which it has reinforced with troops and equipment in recent weeks according to Turkish and Syrian rebel sources.

The Turkish military also controls some 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) of northern Syria after launching two military operations since 2016 against Syrian Kurdish militants. "Erdogan aims to use these developments to convince Putin to be patient and give Turkey more time to gradually deal with the al Qaeda extremists entrenched in Idlib".

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