A 10-article agreement between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for establishing a demilitarized zone inside Syria’s Idlib province in order to protect civilians has been leaked to the Turkish media.
The agreement was signed by the defense ministers of the two countries, according to the CNN Türk website.
Some experts regarded the agreement as putting too much responsibility on Turkey’s shoulders, especially as regards convincing rebels in the area to hand over their weapons and move out from the last stronghold of the armed Syrian opposition.
Erdoğan previously said the agreement would “prevent a humanitarian crisis.”
Russian-backed Syrian forces had long been planning a military offensive in Idlib province, a possible military action that raised concerns about the millions of civilians in the area.
The articles of the agreement are as follows:
- The Idlib de-escalation area will be preserved and Turkish observation posts will be fortified and continue to function.
- The Russian Federation will take all necessary measures to ensure that military operations and attacks on Idlib will be avoided and the existing status quo will be maintained.
- A demilitarized zone, 15-20 kilometers deep, in the de-escalation area will be established.
- The delineation of exact lines of the demilitarized zone will be determined through further consultations.
- All radical terrorist groups will be removed from the demilitarized zone by Oct. 15.
- All tanks, MLRS [Multiple Launch Rocket Systems], artillery and mortars belonging to conflicting parties will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by Oct. 10, 2018.
- The Turkish Armed Forces and the military police of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will conduct coordinated patrols and monitoring with UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] along the boundaries of the demilitarized zone with a view to ensuring free movement of residents and goods and restoring trade and economic relations.
- Transit traffic on the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored by the end of 2018.
- Effective measures will be taken for ensuring a sustainable ceasefire regime within the Idlib de-escalation area. In this regard, the functions of the Joint Iranian-Russian-Turkish Coordination Center will be enhanced.
- The two sides reiterated their determination to combat terrorism in Syria in all its forms and manifestations.