Work to establish a new security system in the Syrian Idlib de-escalation zone started on September 18, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a ministry board meeting.
“Our Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Mr. Erdogan held talks yesterday as part of efforts to resolve the situation in the Syrian Idlib de-escalation zone. The talks also involved defense ministers, foreign ministers and general staff chiefs,” he said. “Following long negotiations, the parties agreed on a decision, which makes it possible for us to say that the construction of a new security system in the Idlib de-escalation zone begins today,” the defense minister stated.
Shoigu recalled that a memorandum on stabilizing the situation in Idlib, signed by Russia and Turkey, “implies that by October 10, heavy weapons must be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone, which will be 15 to 20 kilometers wide.”
“In addition, all the radical groups will have to leave the zone by October 15. That includes the ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra [now knonwn as Hayat Thrir al-Sham] and those on the United Nations’ list of terrorist organizations,” he said.
Additionally, the defense minsiter added that much had been done to restore the work of highways connecting Aleppo with Hama and Latakia.
“Civilians both in Aleppo and the Idlib de-escalation zone should have access to this highway before the end of the year,” he said.
On September 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that they had agreed on establishing a 15-20km demilitarized area in the Idlib de-escalation zone. Under the agreement, all heavy weapons, including battle tanks and artillery, as well as members of radical militant groups have to be withdrawn from the area.