Published: Fri, October 12, 2018

Demilitarized zone formed around Syria’s Idlib, heavy weapons withdrawn - Turkey

Demilitarized zone formed around Syria’s Idlib, heavy weapons withdrawn - Turkey

Syrian rebel forces have withdrawn heavy weaponry from a buffer zone in Idlib, with Turkey announcing the establishment of a demilitarised area on the opposition province's borders with regime territories.

Last month, following a meeting in Sochi between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two countries agreed to establish the Idlib demilitarized zone.

Russia has information regarding attempts to re-deploy terrorists from Syria's Idlib to Iraq but these movements are being cut off, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said on Tuesday.

On Monday, the National Liberation Front completed withdrawing heavy arms from the zone, according to Turkish state media.

Despite the relatively speedy implementation of the accord s first deadline, observers say a thornier task lies ahead.

"No heavy weapon is now visible in the buffer zone", indicated to the AFP the director of the syrian Observatory human rights (OSDH), Rami Abdel Rahmane.

"Our forces will remain on the front lines in defense positions armed with light and medium weapons", al-Mustafa said.

According to AFP reporters on site, heavy weapons, including tanks and artillery guns, were removed from the area and transported elsewhere, in Idleb.

Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present, while Russian Federation and Turkey will conduct joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing renewed fighting.

"It is making the assessment that Turkey will allow it to continue to operate in northwest Syria, so long as HTS keeps a low profile", he added.

In recent weeks, Turkey has dispatched convoys of troops to monitoring posts in the region and its soldiers are expected to patrol any future buffer zone.

Heras said Damascus and Moscow could use the grace period to focus on reconstructing Syria s war-ravaged infrastructure.

More than 360,000 people have been killed since the civil war erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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