On the 17th of September, an important meeting was held in Sochi between Erdogan and Putin to discuss Syria, in particular Idlib. A few hours after the agreement between the two leaders was reached, there was a French-Israeli strike on Syria’s coastal area of Latakia, causing the loss of a Russian Air Force Il-20 aircraft and bringing the world to the brink of a thermonuclear war.
The agreement between Erdogan and Putin over the province of Idlib was reached after five hours of discussions and proposals. Ultimately, as explained by RT, the agreement concerns a 15-20 kilometer demilitarized zone, the identification of terrorist groups to fight, and combined patrols by Turkish and Russian soldiers on the borders of Idlib to monitor the situation and the opening of main roads between Hama, Damascus and Aleppo over the next few months.
RT specifies: “[Erdogan and Putin] We’ve agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15 to 20 kms wide, with full withdrawal of hardline militants from there, including the Jabhat Al-Nusra. As part of solving the deadlock, all heavy weaponry, including tanks and artillery, will be withdrawn from the zone before October 10. The area will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian military units. Before the end of the year, roads between Aleppo and Hama, and Aleppo and Latakia must be reopened for transit traffic. The agreement has received general support from the Syrian government.”
There were manifold goals for the talks between Erdogan and Putin. For the Kremlin there were innumerable points to be clarified and points of tension to be softened. One of the reasons why Russia and Turkey decided to sit around a table and discuss the imminent Syrian offensive in Idlib was the shared concern surrounding possible Western reactions.
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