Russian Federation and Turkey to create demilitarised zone around Idlib

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands after a joint press conference in Sochi

In 2017, a de-escalation zone was established in the region, where militants reluctant to lay down their arms can move together with their families. Rebel sources say the overall number of rebels reaches many tens of thousands.

The United Nations and non-governmental organisations have repeatedly warned that such an offensive would unleash a "bloodbath" and "humanitarian catastrophe" in Idlib, which is home to three million people.

"The territory controlled by the Syrian opposition must be demilitarized", Erdogan said.

"But together with Russian Federation, we will put our efforts into clearing those territories of radical elements", he said. "Russian Federation will take measures to assure that the de-confliction zone will not be attacked", he said.

"In the hours to come, we plan to make final agreements with them [the Turkish side] on the remaining provisions, which are stipulated in this document", Shoigu said.

Hurriyet said they included tanks and some 50 military vehicles, which crossed the border and headed down to the Jisr al-Shughour area in the province's south which recently witnessed an uptick of bombing by Syrian and Russian jets.

Relations between Turkey and Russian Federation, economy and energy issues, as well as regional and worldwide issues, particularly Syria, were among the topics that were discussed.

Putin and Erdogan sat down for talks Monday afternoon.

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Assad sees Idlib as a hotbed for terrorism, equating the opposition to terrorists as he has throughout the war, and has signaled for almost a year that his forces will move on the province. You have the Russians and Iranians in there supporting the regime.

He added that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from all opposition forces by October 10 - an approach supported by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

As Syrian army troops and pro-government militias amassed, Russian planes launched an air campaign on the province, hitting several civilian targets, including hospitals.

Turkey has been eager to prevent an assault by Syrian government troops in the province. The talks appeared to end in deadlock over efforts to avert conflict in Idlib.

Exchanging views on political, military and economic issues will strengthen both Turkey and Russia, Erdogan added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are slated to meet Monday, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

During the summit, Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed another cease-fire in Idlib, but such a proposal wasn't met with satisfaction from the other two leaders, who were largely in favor of a military campaign to resolve the situation in Idlib.

"With this agreement we have precluded experiencing a large humanitarian crisis in Idlib", Erdogan told reporters at the news conference with Putin. "It's not enough that they just change uniforms".

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