Turkey, Russia launched first joint patrol in Idlib
Turkish and Russian troops have conducted the first joint patrolling mission on the M4 highway in Idlib province of Syria, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on March 15, in line with the March 5 agreement sealed between Ankara and Moscow that brought about a temporary cease-fire to the enclave.
A statement issued by the Defense Ministry informed that the joint patrol was carried out with the participation of land and air elements of the Turkish and Russian militaries, according to state-run Anadolu Agency. The statement did not provide any detail of the mission.
The first mission has reportedly taken place between the Saraqib and Nairab towns of Idlib under the control of the joint Turkish-Russian military coordination center.
A deal brokered by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin has stipulated joint patrolling on M4 highway, a strategic motorway that links Aleppo to Latakia. The deal has brought about the establishment of a security corridor six kilometers to the north and six km to the south of the M4 highway.
Following technical talks with the Russian counterparts in Ankara in the last week, Turkish officials announced that Turkish troops will control the northern strip while the Russians will oversee the southern bank.
The deal came after deadly clashes between the Turkish and Syrian armies. Turkey has a strong deployment in the province along with its 12 observation posts under the Sochi Agreement between Turkey and Russia in September 2018.
Turkey said it “neutralized” more than 2,000 Syrian troops and gave a serious damage to its defense system after the regime killed 34 Turkish troops in an aerial attack in late February.
Mission was cut short: Russia
In the meantime, Russian news agencies claimed that the Turkish and Russian troops had to cut short their first mission due to actions of the radical terrorist groups.
“To carry out provocations, terrorists were trying to use civilians as human shields,” the Russian Defense Ministry was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency RIA, explaining the reason for the shorter route.