Syria's warring parties welcome Russia-Turkey deal on Idlib
The Syrian regime and Iran, on Tuesday, welcomed a Russian-Turkish deal reached this week, to avert a military offensive against the opposition Idlib region in northern Syria.
A foreign ministry source quoted by state media said Damascus "welcomes the agreement on Idlib province". which is home to the last significant rebel-held territory in the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who are on opposite sides in the deadly seven-year conflict in Syria - reached the agreement on the fate of Idlib, home to 3 million people, in talks on Monday.
The two leaders agreed to create a 15 to 20 kilometre-wide demilitarised zone along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops by 15 October, to be secured with the help of Turkish and Russian forces.
Russia-backed forces of the Syrian regime have massed around Idlib province in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion.
|The United Nations and non-governmental organisations have repeatedly warned that a military offensive would unleash a 'bloodbath' and 'humanitarian catastrophe' in Idlib|
The United Nations and non-governmental organisations have repeatedly warned that such an offensive would unleash a "bloodbath" and "humanitarian catastrophe" in Idlib.
Turkey has repeatedly called for a ceasefire to avert a possible attack.
Iran's foreign minister on Tuesday hailed the agreement between Turkey and Russia to avert an assault on Syria's last major rebel stronghold in Idlib province as an example of "responsible diplomacy."
"Diplomacy works," Mohammed Javad Zarif added, pointing to his visits to Ankara and Damascus as well as a three-way summit between the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey earlier this month.
Idlib province and adjacent slivers of opposition territory count for more than 3 million residents.
They include tens of thousands of rebels and civilians transferred since 2014 from former opposition bastions recaptured by the regime in notorious "reconciliation" deals.
The UN has warned that, in case of a massive regime assault to take back the province, there is "no other Idlib" for the province's residents to flee to.
More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the Assad regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.
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