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Russia and Turkey to begin patrols in Syria's Idlib province Open in fullscreen

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Russia and Turkey to begin patrols in Syria's Idlib province

Turkey has also set up observation posts in Idlib province [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 March, 2019

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The move is an attempt by Turkey to end weeks of regime shelling of opposition Idlib.
Russian and Turkish troops will begin patrols in and around Syria's Idlib province, which has been subject to weeks of shelling by regime forces.

It follows Moscow's agreement in September to put on hold a planned regime offensive on the opposition province, with a demilitarised zone around the region.

"Today Russian patrols will start outside of Idlib in the border region (and) Turkish armed forces' patrols will begin in the demilitarised zone," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said, according to AFP.

"There were restrictions on the use of Idlib and Afrin regions' airspace but these have been lifted from today," Akar told Anadolu in an interview.

Turkish armoured vehicles were filmed in the western countryside of Aleppo, preparing for their deployment.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have also reported that Turkish forces were spotted in Syria.

"Turkish forces in Syria at observation points spread out in the areas of Aleppo, Hama, Idlib and the slopes of the Latakia mountains are preparing to conduct patrols in the areas of implementation of the Putin-Erdogan agreement," the monitor said.

Turkey set up observation posts in Idlib province following the deal with Russia, to help ease tensions.

Russia, which aids the regime, has said it wants to crush the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, which controls opposition Idlib.

Regime shelling and air strikes since the buffer zone was agreed have killed 160 civilians including 60 children, the Observatory said.

Pro-regime media have also hyped-up the possibility of a new offensive on Idlib province.

Akar strongly backs the ceasefire agreement with Russia, saying it is the best way to bring stability to Syria, where around half-a-million people have been killed since the outbreak of war in 2011.

But he said that direct talks with the Syrian regime were "out of the question".

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