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Russia, Turkey agree on borders of buffer zone

Sarajevo – Russia and Turkey have agreed on borders of the demilitarised zone around Syria’s Idlib, Russia’s top diplomat said Friday, part of a deal aimed to prevent a military assault on the last rebel enclave.

“Just yesterday or the day before, the militaries of Russia and Turkey agreed the concrete frontiers of the demilitarised zone,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Bosnian counterpart Igor Crnadak.

Lavrov also said the United States’ control over the eastern bank of the Euphrates river posed the main threat to Syria’s territorial integrity, Interfax news agency reported.

Moscow says the demilitarised zone would help stop attacks from Idlib on Syrian regime positions and Russia’s military bases in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed the establishment of the 15km to 20km zone on Monday after talks that lasted more than four hours.

Security in the zone will be overseen by Turkish contingents and Russian military police. The agreement will prevent military action against Idlib, Russia’s defence minister said.

“It’s an intermediate step… but a necessary step,” Lavrov said of the zone.

“By mid-October, all (fighters of the Al Nusra Front) must leave this demilitarised zone, and all heavy military equipment must be pulled out of there,” he said.

In a related development, Turkish presidential spokesman Ebrahim Kalin said on Friday Turkey and the US have almost completed work on joint patrols in northern Syria’s Manbij area and those patrols and joint training will begin soon. In a news conference with journalists, Kalin said that Turkey expected the international community to contribute to the political process in Syria.

Meanwhile, the Israeli regime has said it has not altered its coordination with Russia on attacks it carries out in Syria, despite the downing of a Russian plane days earlier. “There have been no changes to the deconfliction mechanism as a result of this unfortunate event,” an occupation regime official said on condition of anonymity.

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