Russia and Turkey Agree on Military Free Zone

Days before a new round of discussions in Astana between Iran, Turkey, and Russia, and in parallel to talks about Turkey’s fear of a military operation by the Syrian army in Idleb, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced a new agreement between the two parties to establish a military-free zone in the Idleb governorate, in northwestern Syria.

The new Turkish-Russian agreement follows a meeting between Lavrov and Çavuşoğlu in Antalya, southern Turkey, on Wednesday. During that meeting, Lavrov said at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart: “We have reached an agreement with the Turkish side on the establishment of a military-free zone in Idleb.”

At the same time, he announced his country’s rejection of the draft UN Security Council resolution on extending the mechanism of action by opening a second route for the transfer of humanitarian aid across the border to Syria. Lavrov said: “If we are in fact concerned about the humanitarian problems the Syrian people suffer from, we should look at all the reasons that have resulted in the emergence of these problems. Such as sanctions, including the inhumane and oppressing Caesar’s Law, adopted by the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump. Another reason is the illegal seizure of Syrian assets in Western banks at Washington’s request, which can only be described as fraud. As well as our allies’ refusal to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance by international organizations through Damascus and across frontlines to all areas that remain outside the government’s control till now.”

From this point of view, he said, he discussed with his Turkish counterpart the latest developments in Syria.

For his part, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stressed the need to maintain the ceasefire in Syria, stressing that humanitarian aid should continue to reach the northwest areas of Syria. He noted that his country continues to work with Russia to ensure peace in the region. Çavuşoğlu said: “We will continue to work with Russia to ensure peace in the area for the stability of the political situation in Syria.”

The agreement comes days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan got in contact through a phone call.

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