Russia and Turkey move to demilitarize last rebel-held Syrian province

Russia and Turkey move to demilitarize last rebel-held Syrian province
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Russia and Turkey announced Monday that they will erect a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Syria's Idlib Province, the last remaining rebel stronghold in the country. 

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that they will seek to complete the DMZ by Oct. 15, The New York Times reports

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Putin said that all armed combatants opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime should exit the zone by Oct 10 and remove "heavy armaments, rocket launchers, tanks and mortars of all opposition forces."

Putin said that Russian and Turkish military police will control the zone, which will extend nine miles by 12 miles, the newspaper reports. 

According to Reuters, Turkey announced last Friday that it was discussing a ceasefire with all the parties involved in Syria as tensions mounted over a potential final battle for the region.

In the face of Assad and his allies' battle preparations, the top U.S. general in the region, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, indicated that President TrumpDonald John TrumpReturn hope to the Middle East by returning to the Iran Deal Government shutdowns tend to increase government spending 'Full Frontal' gives six-bedroom house to group that works with detained immigrants MORE had been presented with military options.

The day before Dunford's comments, the U.S. and its allies conducted military exercises in Syria.

The situation grew more heated as reports emerged that Assad had approved the use of chlorine gas several days later.

The Wall Street Journal, which reported the approval, also reported that Trump privately threatened to retaliate with a massive attack if Assad used chemical weapons.

When asked two days later if the U.S. would respond with military force, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said, "I am not going to give that clarity."

"He's been warned," Mattis said of Assad. "And so we'll see if he's wised up."

It is unclear how the situation will proceed now that Russia and Turkey are planning to establish a DMZ in Idlib.

However, The Washington Post reported two weeks ago that Trump has approved leaving around 2,000 U.S. troops in the country indefinitely.