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Russia Seeks to Reduce Turkey's Presence in Idlib

Russia Seeks to Reduce Turkey's Presence in Idlib

Thursday, 17 September, 2020 - 07:30
Smoke rises in southern Idlib following a bombing by Syrian regime loyalists (AFP)

Moscow has convinced Ankara to reduce its military presence in Idlib, northwestern Syria, Russian sources revealed, saying that a military delegation from the Russian ministries of defense and foreign affairs visited Ankara on Tuesday and held closed-door discussions with Turkish officials.

The meetings tackled the issue of withdrawing heavy weapons from the region and rearranging the situation regarding the activity of the Turkish observation points.

According to Russian local media, Turkey has rejected Moscow's offer to reduce the number of observation posts but expressed willingness to discuss mechanisms to withdraw some heavy weapons from Idlib.

The Russian delegation presented its proposal on Tuesday, but both parties failed to reach an understanding in this regard, the source noted.

Parties held on Wednesday a detailed discussion over the withdrawal mechanisms of some of the Turkish forces deployed in the region.

Ankara and Moscow have earlier agreed to set up 12 Turkish observation posts in the Idlib region, in line with implementing bilateral understandings on separating between extremists and moderate factions and establishing a safe zone along the key M4 highway.

The recent meetings came in light of the ceasefire agreement concluded by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in March.

Talks on reducing Turkish presence in Idlib come shortly after Moscow and Ankara held joint military drills in Idlib.

The Russian and Turkish military had conducted a joint exercise to combat terrorism, announced Deputy Head of Coordination Center in Idlib’s De-escalation Zone Yevgeny Polyakov.

Trainings focused on repelling attacks by armed groups on military convoys, he explained, adding that they included means to enhance cooperation and coordination during patrols.

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