ANKARA – Turkish and Russian defense ministers held a phone conversation on March 10 to discuss the situation in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.
Hulusi Akar and Sergey Shoygu exchanged views on ways to achieve a permanent cease-fire among conflict parties in Idlib, according to the Defense Ministry.
They also discussed how to establish the conditions for more than 1 million displaced people, 81% of whom are women and children, to return to their homes, the ministry said in a statement.
The fulfillment of obligations under the agreements and continuation of efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region were also emphasized during the conversation, according to the ministry.
In the meantime, Turkey’s army chief on March 10 held a phone conversation with NATO’s top commander in Europe.
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) Gen. Tod D. Wolters discussed recent developments in Idlib, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said in a tweet, without giving further details, reported Hurriyet news.
Talks between Turkey and Russia on the implementation of a ceasefire agreement in Syria’s northwestern Idlib region are “positive and constructive,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said.
“Our activities continue within the context of the [ceasefire] agreement. The situation has been calm,” Akar told reporters in parliament.
The minister also underlined that Ankara’s “wish” is for the ceasefire to be permanent and for the Syrian asylum seekers to return to their homelands once the war-torn country reaches peace.
“We are working on these. We stand behind our commitments. Likewise, we expect Russia to show the necessary sensitivity regarding this,” he said.
Akar also said that Ankara and Moscow were working to prepare for joint patrols on the key M4 highway. The patrols were expected to begin on March 15.
Turkey and Russia agreed on a ceasefire on March 5 to stem weeks of escalating clashes in Idlib.
The ceasefire protocol stipulates the establishment of a secure corridor 6 kilometers north and 6 km south from the M4 highway in Idlib. The parameters of the security corridor were to be completed in seven days, which expired on March 12.
According to the agreement, the patrolling will take place from the Trumba settlement, some 2 kilometers to the west of Saraqib, to the Ain-Al-Havr settlement.
Ankara working to broker permanent cease-fire
Turkey is working to extend the temporary cease-fire in Idlib to a permanent one, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said recently.