Erdogan, Putin push ‘de-escalation’ zone in key Syria province

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shake hands after a joint press conference following their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on September 28, 2017

Ankara (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday agreed to push for the creation of a “de-escalation” zone in Syria’s key northern province of Idlib to help end the civil war.

Erdogan said after talks in Ankara that the pair agreed to “pursue more intensely” the implementation of a de-escalation zone in Idlib, which is currently under jihadist control, in comments echoed by Putin.

Moscow and Ankara have proposed at peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana the creation of four de-escalation zones in Syria to be patrolled by military observers, but the one in Idlib is by far the most significant.

The Russian leader said Russia and Turkey would work to “deepen coordination” on ending the over six-year civil war, adding the right conditions now existed for the conflict to end.

“De-facto, the necessary conditions have been created for the end of the fratricidal war in Syria, the final defeat of terrorists and the return of Syrians to a peaceful life and their homes,” said Putin.

Russia and Turkey would work “with the aim of deepening the coordination of our joint activity to solve the Syria crisis,” Putin added.

He said the work to implement the agreements made at the Astana peace talks has “not been easy” but the sides had already “succeeded in having a positive result”.

Erdogan said that the two sides had reaffirmed their determination to work closely and show a “joint will” to end the Syria conflict.

Turkey and Russia have been on opposing sides during the more than six years of war in Syria, with Russia the key backer of President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey supporting rebels seeking his ouster.

But Ankara and Moscow have been working closely since a 2016 reconciliation ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian war plane over Syria.


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