Defence Minister Hulusi Akar says "we are working to start a joint patrol [with Russia] along M-4 highway" of Idlib from March 15.

A truck loaded with a family's belongings drives along the Aleppo-Latakia highway near the town of Saraqeb, Idlib province, Syria, January 31, 2020.
A truck loaded with a family's belongings drives along the Aleppo-Latakia highway near the town of Saraqeb, Idlib province, Syria, January 31, 2020. (AFP)

Talks between Turkish and Russian military officials on starting joint patrols in Idlib, northwestern Syria under the ceasefire deal reached last week are making progress, Turkey’s defence chief said on Wednesday.

"The negotiations continue in a positive and constructive way," Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in the Turkish capital Ankara.

"On March 15, we plan and are working to start a joint patrol along the M-4 highway," the centre of a 12-km security zone, Akar added.

Turkish Defence Ministry said, "Talks will continue tomorrow [March 12]."

Turkey-Russia deal 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week agreed on a new ceasefire for Idlib starting on March 5.

Under the deal, all military activities are to end in Idlib with the establishment of a security corridor 6km to the north and 6 km to the south of the key M4 highway.

Joint Turkish-Russian patrols will also begin on March 15 along the highway from the settlement of Trumba – 2km to the west of Saraqeb – to the settlement of Ain al Havr, under the deal.

Turkey launched Operation Spring Shield on February 27 after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in an Assad regime airstrike in Idlib province and after repeated violations of previous ceasefires.

Under a 2018 deal with Russia, the Turkish troops were in Idlib to protect civilians from attacks by the regime and terrorist groups.

Idlib is currently home to four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.

In recent months, upwards of a million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks by the Assad regime and its allies.

Source: AA