İrem UZUN -TDO- Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced another cease-fire in the deepening crisis in Syria’s Idlib province, hoping to patch up increasingly frayed ties between their two countries. “Work will be speedily carried out to make the cease-fire permanent” after it takes effect at midnight Thursday, Erdogan told reporters after six hours of talks in the Kremlin. The new agreement is the latest in more than two years of efforts to contain the conflict in the region, and it wasn’t clear if it would last longer than previous failed attempts. Putin said at the start of the talks that Russia and Turkey shouldn’t destroy their relationship over Idlib.
Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria, has witnessed increased violence and bloodshed since last December, the start of a Russia-backed Syrian offensive to regain control over the region. "At 00.01 tonight, as in, from midnight, the ceasefire will be put in place," Erdogan told reporters in Moscow. Erdogan added that Turkey, which has sent thousands of troops into Idlib to repel the Syrian army, would not "remain silent" on attacks by Syrian government forces, and warned that Ankara would retaliate with full force. Putin said Russia did not always agree with its Turkish partners but hoped the deal will serve as a "good basis for ending the fighting in the Idlib de-escalation zone, put an end to suffering of civilian population and contain a growing humanitarian crisis.”
Turkey and Russia on Thursday also agreed to establish a secure corridor along a key east-west highway in Syria's Idlib and hold joint patrols on it as of March 15. In a joint statement read out by the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers, the two sides said the secure corridor would stretch 6km (3.7 miles) to the north and 6km to the south of the M4 highway. They said their defence ministers would agree on the parameters of the corridor within a week.