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US State Department Says Hopes Turkey-Russia Ceasefire Will Help De-escalate Tensions in Idlib

© REUTERS / Pavel GolovkinRussian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020 - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is encouraged by an agreement on a ceasefire reached between Moscow and Ankara and is hopeful that it will help de-escalate tensions in Syria's Idlib, a State Department spokesperson said.
"We are encouraged by reports today of a Turkish-Russian ceasefire in Idlib, which we hope will help de-escalate a very dangerous situation and relieve the dire humanitarian crisis precipitated by attacks on civilian areas by the Assad regime, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah forces", the official said on Thursday. "The United States looks forward to discussing the details of this development with our NATO Ally Turkey, which has sought an enduring ceasefire. Of utmost importance now are the actions on the ground by Assad and his supporters, which will show whether an enduring ceasefire will be achieved".

As a result of six-hour talks in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a ceasefire in Idlib, which took effect at midnight on 6 March.

According to the agreement, Russia and Turkey shall start joint patrols on the M4 highway in northern Syria. The agreement also stipulates that a 12-km security corridor for Syria’s Idlib Province will be established to the north and to the south of the highway.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Ankara has failed to fulfil some of its commitments under the 2018 Russian-Turkish memorandum on a demilitarised zone in Idlib, including not separating Islamic terrorists from the so-called moderate opposition.

The Turkish government launched "Operation Spring Shield" last week after Syrian Army attacks on terrorist positions killed dozens of Turkish troops in Idlib. According to Moscow, the Turkish soldiers were operating amongst al-Nusra* militants. Ankara later claimed its army had "neutralised" up to 300 Syrian soldiers.

*Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or al-Qaeda in Syria) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia

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