Turkey's Erdogan says his meeting with Putin on Syria will bring hope

Russia and Turkey agree to create buffer zone in Syria's IdlibMore

Russia and Turkey agree to create buffer zone in Syria's IdlibMore

"We have made a decision to create a demilitarized zone some 15 to 20 kilometers deep along the line of contact between the armed opposition and regime troops by October 15 of this year", Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Monday.

The leaders of Russian Federation and Turkey have agreed to establish a de-militarised zone between rebel fighters and Syrian government forces in Idlib, the last stronghold of the armed opposition in Syria. This time, the splintered and diverse rebels have only Turkey.

At that summit the Russian and Turkish leaders openly disagreed over how to deal with the rebel stronghold, which borders Turkey.

The two leaders agreed that radical Islamist groups, some of them affiliated with Al Qaeda, must be removed from the Idlib border zone by October 15.

Heavy weapons, including tanks, mortars and artillery will be withdrawn from the zone by 10 October.

Syrian forces and Iran-backed militias are likely to try to avoid clashes with Turkish troops.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed since an uprising began there in 2011, fracturing the country and drawing in world powers.

Idlib is one of the last remaining areas resistant to the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

For Ankara, the US-backed YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and EU.

Bombardment has slowed over the past week, and on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied that Syrian troops were planning a major offensive on Idlib. "But we are still not satisfied".

For Russia, foreign fighters in Idlib are a big concern.

Assad wasn't present as the future of the country was being decided.

"There is really no way for the Syrian military and Damascus' allies to launch a military offensive on Idlib that doesn't have deeply negative, injurious effects on Turkey".

The plan also seems to require that Turkey make efforts to eliminate or isolate hard-core Islamist militants.

"Russia will surely take necessary precautions to ensure the Idlib de-escalation zone is not attacked". The other three zones have since been retaken by Syrian government forces. "There is no real way they can cushion this for Turkey", said Sam Heller, a Syria expert in the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. Turkish officials hope to peel away some of the rank-and-file jihadists to join the more moderate NLF, analysts say.

Idlib and surrounding areas is home to over 3 million Syrians, and an estimated 60,000 rebel fighters. "Russian Federation will take measures to assure that the de-confliction zone will not be attacked", he said. "There are a lot of problems, some of them being very hard". "The Turkish and US serious pressures were the reason behind Russian Federation abstaining from the offensive and offering an air cover which means Iran alone won't be able to carry out the offensive with the overstretched forces of the Assad regime".

The UN Syria envoy has said there are thought to be around 10,000 Nusra fighters.

The challenge now is whether Turkey and Russian Federation are able to successfully put this plan into action.

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