Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) shakes hands with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar in Ankara on February 11, 2019. Photo: Russia Ministry of Defence
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Russia and Turkey have renewed their commitment to “establish peace” in Idlib, calling for “decisive measures to ensure security in the Idlib demilitarized zone.”
Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu met with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar in Ankara on Monday.
“Despite the provocations, the importance and the need to continue cooperation between the intelligence services and the armed forces of the two countries to establish peace and maintain stability in Idlib was underlined,” read a joint statement issued after their meeting, published by the Russian Ministry of Defence.
"The importance of cooperation in the fight against terrorism in the interests of ensuring the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria is re-emphasized," the statement added.
Turkey and Russia are guarantors of a shaky ceasefire in rebel-held Idlib that has been taken over
by al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
The ministers have also discussed the future of Kurdish territory east of the Euphrates River in light of the imminent withdrawal of the United States, though no progress on this topic was announced.
Ankara wants to assume responsibility for a so-called safe zone along the northern Syria border. Moscow wants Damascus to re-assume control over the lands now controlled by a local Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the US-led coalition. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control a third of Syrian territory.
The defence ministers’ meeting comes ahead of a summit of the presidents of Russia, Turkey, and Iran in Sochi on February 14. The three presidents are leading a Syrian peace effort parallel to the United Nations’ process.