On October 10, the Ministry of Defense of Turkey announced in an official statement that a demilitarized zone had been established around the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib. The defense ministry stated that the withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the zone had been completed.
Last month, Russia and Turkey agreed to establish this demilitarized zone as part of a wider deconfliction agreement on Idlib. In compliance with the agreement, Syrian opposition armed groups began withdrawing their heavy weapons from the zone few days ago.
Hours before the Turkish announcement, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the establishment of the demilitarized zone around Idlib is “progressing quite well” and praised Turkey’s efforts to implement the agreement within the agreed-upon timeline.
“The deadline for demilitarized zones to be fully functional expires on October 15. A day or two do not play any role, in any case, the quality of these works is more important,” Lavrov told reporters at a news conference in the capital Moscow, according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
The Ministry of Defense of Russia has not commented on the Turkish announcement so far. This may mean the demilitarized zone has not been fully established so far. one of the possible reasons is that radical groups like Hay’at Tahir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) are yet to announce their stand on the deconfliction agreement.