ISTANBUL – The Turkish ministry of defense said on Wednesday that rebel militias have completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the Syrian northwestern province of Idlib, as Ankara and Moscow agreed a month ago.
In a statement released on its website, the ministry recalled that the Russian-Turkish agreement signed on Sept. 17 in the city of Sochi established a 15-20 kilometers strip in Idlib as a demilitarized zone.
The note explained that such a step aimed to end tension in Idlib and eliminate the risk of confrontations.
The Turkish armed forces, in any case, will continue their activities within the framework of agreements to establish a lasting peace, according to the statement, which included numerous photos of trucks transporting tanks or missile launch systems.
Turkey supports several militias in the area, including the Free Syrian Army that fight against the Syrian regime, which, in turn, is militarily supported by Russia and Iran.
The Sochi agreement provides for Russian and Turkish troops to jointly patrol the demilitarized zone and prevent troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from launching a massive offensive against Idlib region, the only large area in the hands of Islamist rebels.