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Ankara, Moscow Halt Joint Military Patrols in Idlib over Militant Attacks

Ankara, Moscow Halt Joint Military Patrols in Idlib over Militant Attacks

Saturday, 15 August, 2020 - 04:45
FILE PHOTO - A Turkish military truck drives on the Turkish-Syrian border, with the Syrian town of Kobani in the background, in Suruc, in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

Russia and Turkey have suspended military patrols carried out along the M4 highway in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib over increasing militant attacks in the area, the Russian foreign ministry said.

The joint patrols kicked off in March after both countries agreed on a ceasefire in the region following weeks of clashes that brought Ankara and Moscow close to direct confrontation, and displaced nearly a million people.

Recent attacks by “radicals” have prompted a suspension of the patrols, the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, Reuters reported.

“Terrorists have stepped up the amount of shelling on government troops and nearby settlements, not ceasing their provocations in the ‘security corridor’ along the M4 highway. Thus, the joint patrols have been suspended,” she told a news conference on Thursday.

Ankara and Moscow had carried out up to 24 joint patrols along the key M4 highway that links Syria’s east and west, with the latest along the Trumbah and Ayn Al Havron road on Wednesday, according to Turkey’s defense ministry.

The ceasefire reached by Ankara and Moscow on March 5 has largely held, with both sides saying there have only been minor violations.

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