MIDDLE EAST

Idlib agreement on track to prevent further chaos in region

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The implementation of the Sochi deal on Idlib is continuing smoothly without any major problems, thanks mainly to Turkey's efforts in the region

The Sochi agreement, which established a cease-fire in northwestern Syria's Idlib province, is being implemented without any major problems thanks to Turkey's ongoing efforts to prevent any violation that may spark new conflicts in the region, Turkish and Russian officials said yesterday. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that there were no problems regarding the implementation of the Sochi deal. He was speaking after a trilateral meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

"There are not any issues currently in implementing the memorandum. Until the end of the year, the opening of the roads connecting Aleppo to Hama and Latakia will be completed. Everything is going as planned," Çavuşoğlu stressed and said that the Russian officials have often expressed their satisfaction with the steps taken by Turkey in the implementation of the deal.

Thanks to Ankara's resolve to prevent a military incursion that would put the lives of Idlib's 3 million civilians at risk, the Sochi agreement was reached with Russia on Sept. 17.

The two countries decided on the withdrawal of radical groups and heavy weapons from the city's demilitarized buffer zone. Previously, the Assad regime was planning to launch a full-scale operation on Idlib, the last opposition stronghold in Syria.

"Turkey will never allow those who want to drag Idlib, Syria into chaos by inciting the regime or reviving Daesh in the region," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting.

The agreement on Idlib raised hopes that a full-scale operation by the regime, which would have been disastrous, was averted.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also highlighted the importance of Turkey's role in the Idlib deal yesterday. "Turkey is doing its best to fulfill difficult obligations on establishing a demilitarized zone in Idlib, and Russia does not see a threat the agreement would fail," he said.

The Sochi deal has saddled Turkey with a difficult task of enabling the withdrawal of heavy weapons and radical groups from the region. Commenting on possible violations of the deal, Çavuşoğlu stated that "if the terrorists and radicals displayed an approach against the deal, we would intervene before everyone else."

The foreign minister underscored that Turkey has been involved in the Astana process with Iran which also strongly supports the process. He added that in all declarations and memorandums, Ankara has been voicing support for the border security and territorial integrity of Syria.

Çavuşoğlu pointed out that while supporting the process for a political solution in Syria, Turkey is also resolute in fighting against terror groups including Daesh, PKK and its Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Saturday's quartet summit in Istanbul, which was participated by the Turkish, Russian, French and German leaders, praised the Sochi deal since it prevented a humanitarian disaster and stopped a new refugee wave.

Following the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Turkey has been fulfilling its responsibilities. French President Emmanuel Macron also emphasized that there should be a permanent cease-fire in Idlib.

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