Idlib agreement 'paves way for normalization'

Idlib agreement 'paves way for normalization'

Hande Fırat - ANKARA
Idlib agreement paves way for normalization

A ceasefire agreement with Russia for Syria’s Idlib province will protect the Turkish borders, lay the groundwork for normalization in the region and ensure the security of the Turkish troops and civilians there, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 5.

“The ceasefire brings significant gains in several areas. It makes the borders of our country more protected against the regime and terrorist attacks. It prepares the ground for stability and normalization in the Idlib region. It ensures the security of our soldiers there. It is an important step for the protection of civilians,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists on March 5 traveling with him en route from Moscow to Ankara.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Erdoğan reached a deal after hours of talks in Moscow. 

Turkey and Russia agreed to establish a secure corridor 6 kilometers north and 6 kilometers south from the M4 highway in Idlib, where Turkish and Russian forces will launch joint patrols on March 15. 

“Our aim was to provide a truce while coming here. We assured it. Of course, we will be vigilant at any time against the possible violations and attacks of the regime,” Erdoğan said. 

Asked about the risk that the regime would not obey the requirements of the protocol, Erdoğan said: “At this point, the regime cannot resist much any instruction from Russia.” 

The escalation in Idlib is not “an event between Russia and Turkey. We don’t have Russia here against us, we have a regime here against us,” he said.

The Turkish observation posts in Idlib will retain its current status under this deal, Erdoğan said.

“There are 12 observation points in total. Of course, these observation points are very, very important to us. Apart from 12 observation points, of course, observation below is important. All of these situations will be preserved just like the current situation. There are no changes at the moment,” he stated. 

The U.S. could have sent “arms and ammunition, several pieces of equipment” to Turkey for support after the Idlib crisis if there was no ceasefire, Erdoğan said, noting that Ankara has not received any support yet. 

The president also reiterated that as of April Turkey would activate the Russian S-400 defense systems it purchased, adding that he had also asked for U.S. Patriot systems.

They also discussed Libya in the Moscow talks, Erdoğan said, expressing his expectation that Russia could take a positive step for the withdrawal of Russian mercenaries fighting in support of General Khalifa Haftar