New Idlib cease-fire set to take effect
Turkey had pushed hard for the cease-fire, coming after Idlib, Syria endured months of battering by the Assad regime and its allies, sending about a million war-weary civilian refugees flocking to the Turkish border.
"Turkey and the Russian Federation have agreed on the implementation of the cease-fire within the Idlib de-escalation zone, stopping the air/ground attacks, preventing loss of life and new migratory flows with the purpose of contributing to the normalization of life," Turkey’s National Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The cease-fire will take effect on Jan. 12, just after midnight.
Separately on Jan. 9, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced a cease-fire in the region taking effect at 02.00 p.m. local time.
Following Russia's move, Assad regime forces on Thursday shelled the city of Maarat Al-Numan and the villages of Maar Shoreen, Talmenes, and Maar Shamshah, and continued on Friday to bombard Maarat Al-Numan and Talmenes.
The Assad regime also launched ground operations to take more villages and towns in the southern countryside of the Idlib province.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Since then, more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces in the de-escalation zone as the cease-fire continues to be violated.
Over 1 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the last year.
According to the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the Idlib province is home to around 3 million civilians, 75 percent of them women and children.
Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making Turkey the world’s top refugee-hosting country.
Ankara has so far spent $40 billion for the refugees, according to official figures.