On October 24, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said during an interview with the Anadolu Agency said that a large number of heavy weapons and radical militants were cleared from the 15-20 km demilitarized zone, which was established around the Syrian governorate of Idlib under the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement.
“Turkey will never allow a terror corridor to be established in its south,” Anadolu quoted Akar as stating.
In the interview, Akar also revealed that he will discuss several matters related to the deconfliction agreement on Idlib in an upcoming meeting with his Russian counterpart on October 27.
Despite Akar’s claims, local observers believe that most radical militants are still operating within the demilitarized zone. This was demonstrated earlier, when a coalition of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) from inside the zone.
Earlier this month, the Turkish military claimed that all heavy weapons had been withdrawn from the demilitarized zone. However, the militants, including Turkish-backed elements, continued to use such weapons in attacks against the SAA.
Russia agreed to extend the timeline of the declination agreement, which indicates that Turkey is working hard to implement the agreement. However, this task may take much longer than expected.