Turkey, Russia agree to cease-fire in northwestern Syria
Turkey and Russia have agreed to a cease-fire in northwestern Syria to begin at midnight on Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin both accepted a military cease-fire in Idlib after a six-hour meeting in Moscow, Al Jazeera reported.
“At 0001 tonight, as in, from midnight, the cease-fire will be put in place,” the Turkish president told reporters in Moscow.
Idlib is the last rebel stronghold in Syria and has experienced a boost in violence since December when a Russian-backed Syrian offensive began. More than 300 civilians, including more than 100 children, have died since the offensive, with 1 million Syrians being displaced to the border with Turkey, Al Jazeera reported.
The attack led to thousands of Turkish forces entering the region to deter the Syrian army. Erdoğan has said Turkey would not “remain silent” if Syrian attacks continued, adding that the country would retaliate. Since the beginning of February, 59 Turkish soldiers have been killed.
Putin said Thursday that he did not always agree with Turkey, but is hoping this will end civilian suffering and reduce the humanitarian crisis, according to Al Jazeera.
The agreement involves making a secure corridor along an east-west highway where Russia and Turkey can hold joint patrols starting March 15.
Russian-backed Syrian President Bashar Assad criticized Turkey in response to the agreement, saying Erdoğan is “supporting terrorists.”
“Erdoğan is unable to tell the Turks why he is sending his army to fight in Syria and why his soldiers are being killed there because the issue has nothing to do with Turkish interests but with his Muslim Brotherhood ideology,” Assad said during a state-owned Russia 24 news channel broadcast, cited by Al Jazeera.