Russia, Turkey agree to create buffer zone in Syria's Idlib

Syrian engineers begin building underground hospitals

Mr Putin made the announcement after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Moscow and Ankara have agreed to pool efforts to free the demilitarized that is to be established in Syria's Idlib governorate from all radical groups, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

The zone will be established by October 15 and be 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) deep, with troops from Russian Federation and NATO-member Turkey conducting coordinated patrols, President Vladimir Putin said at the end of a more than three-hour meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi.

According to United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, about 10,000 Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda (both outlawed in Russia) militants are now staying in the region. Among them would be those from the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham - Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee.

"Hope at long last for 3 million Syrian civilians in Idleb [sic]: Russian Federation and Turkey agree on plan that may avert horrific war among displaced people", Egeland wrote on Twitter.

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Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the agreement between Putin and Erdogan meant that no military action would be taken against Idlib, Russian news agencies reported.

What is the deal and what did Putin and Erdogan say?

. Turkey however backs opposition fighters seeking the ouster of the Syrian leader. Russia-backed forces of the Syrian regime have massed around Idlib province in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion. That was one of the government's strategic aims in an offensive in Idlib.

It is hard to see exactly how a buffer zone arrangement involving Russian Federation and Turkey can address these long-term problems. "The Turkish and US serious pressures were the reason behind Russian Federation abstaining from the offensive and offering an air cover which means Iran alone won't be able to carry out the offensive with the overstretched forces of the Assad regime".

He had earlier called for a ceasefire in northern Syria to prevent what he said would be a "bloodbath" and another major refugee crisis on Turkey's southern border. "Turkey is in a strong position".

Mobile patrol groups consisting of Turkish army units and Russian military police units will control the situation in the demilitarized zone, Putin said, according to a Kremlin press release.

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