Russia, Turkey agree to create demilitarised zone in Idlib

Russia, Turkey agree to create demilitarised zone in Idlib
2 min read
17 September, 2018
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the agreement between Putin and Erdogan meant no military action would be taken against Idlib.
Russia's Putin and Turkish counterpart Erdogan met in Sochi for Idlib talks [Getty]

The presidents of Russia and Turkey said on Monday they had agreed to create a "demilitarised zone" around Syria's Idlib, in a move aimed at preventing an offensive on the rebel-held bastion.

A 15-20km wide buffer zone in Idlib jointly policed by Russian and Turkish forces is to come into force by 15 October, Vladimir Putin said.

"We have decided to create a demilitarised zone some 15 to 20 kilometres deep along the line of contact between the armed opposition and regime troops by October 15 of this year," Putin said after more than four hours of talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This would entail a "withdrawal of all radical fighters" from Idlib including the al-Nusra Front, Putin said. 

The two leaders also agreed on the withdrawal of "heavy weaponry from this zone," including tanks, multiple launch rocket systems, and rocket launchers belonging to all armed groups, Putin added.

"Control in the demilitarised zone will be organised together with mobile patrol groups of Turkish contingents and contingents of Russian military police," he said.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between Latakia and Aleppo as well as Latakia and Hama must be restored, Putin added. 

Erdogan said the measures would "prevent a humanitarian crisis".

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the agreement between Putin and Erdogan meant no military action would be taken against Idlib, Russian news agencies reported.

Russia has been a firm backer of the Syrian regime since Damascus launched an offensive on peaceful protesters - and then an armed uprising - providing weaponry, military advisers, and from 2015 air support to the besieged government.

Syrian regime forces have massed around Idlib province in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion.


Turkey remains a supporter of the Syrian opposition, and has reportedly flooded Idlib with weapons for moderate rebel groups.

Ankara has also bolstered its observation posts on the edges of the province.