Turkish forces will begin conducting patrols in the demilitarized zone around the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib in the upcoming two days, the Enab Baladi news outlet reported on February 22, citing local sources.
“The Turkish observation posts in northern Syria informed the civilians in Idlib that Turkish patrols will move in the [demilitarized] zone,” the source told the pro-opposition outlet.
Russia and Turkey agreed to establish the demilitarized zone last year. The zone, that’s located within the opposition-held areas, has a reduce of 15-20km around Idlib. Under the Russian-Turkish agreement, radical militants and heavy weapons are not allowed within the zone.
Enab Baladi claimed that Turkish forces will patrol the demilitarized zone to stop alleged violations by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). In contrast to these claims, militants are the side violating the Russian-Turkish agreement on a daily basis. Some radical groups even publicly call to sabotage it and release photos and videos showing how its fighters violate the agreement.
Last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov revealed that Russia and Turkey had reached a new agreement, which will allow Russian and Turkish forces to conduct joint patrols within the demilitarized zone around Idlib.
“the military of Russian and Turkey, with the consent of the Syrian government, would try to establish a step-by-step approach, making several areas of joint patrol inside the [Idlib] zone of de-escalation,” Lavrov said.
The situation with the participation of Russian forces in this Turkish effort remains unclear. Local observers believe that radical militants will not allow this to happen.