Russian and Turkish troops start patrolling northwestern Syria

Syria
A member of the Syrian pro-government forces raises the national flag atop a damaged building in the Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood on the southern outskirts of the capital Damascus on May 22, 2018. - The government seized earlier in the week the Yarmuk Palestinian camp and adjacent neighbourhoods of Tadamun and Hajar al-Aswad from the Islamic State (IS) group , putting Damascus fully under its control for the first time since 2012. (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — In accordance with the Sochi agreements, the Russian and Turkish military began patrolling the de-escalation zone in the Syrian governorate of Idlib, Turkish agency Anadolu said.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Russia and Turkey were starting joint patrols of Idlib territory in Syria on Friday, Anadolu news agency reported.

The minister said Turkey would patrol the demilitarized zone, while Russia would do it along the outer perimeter of the zone. According to Hulusi Akar, joint patrols are important to protect the ceasefire regime and maintain stability in northwestern Syria.

The Turkish defense chief also added that Ankara did not maintain relations with Bashar al-Assad’s government, negotiations being conducted exclusively with Russia and with Iran if necessary.

A few hours after the minister’s statements, the agency announced that the Turkish army began patrolling the de-escalation area in Idlib in accordance with the Sochi agreements.

Russia and Turkey agreed last September in Sochi to create a de-escalation zone in the Idlib governorate. In accordance with the agreements, the armed groups and the Syrian army were to withdraw heavy weapons from the area to allow the Russian and Turkish military to patrol the demarcation line and open the Aleppo-Latakia and Aleppo-Hama roads.

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