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ANKARA, December 22. /TASS/. Turkey and its counterparts have been working together in order to implement the road map on settling the Syrian crisis, which was adopted in Moscow, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said while addressing parliament.
The minister pointed out that "cooperation with Russia helped achieve progress regarding the withdrawal of civilians from Aleppo." "On December 20, a trilateral meeting between Turkey, Russian and Iran took place in Moscow. Now work is underway to implement the Moscow road map in order to ensure sustainable peace in Syria," Isik said. According to him, "the heinous assassination of Russia’s Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara was aimed at spoiling the improving relations between Turkey and Russia and disrupt the withdrawal of civilians from Aleppo."
The defense minister also said that from the very beginning Turkey had been considering "Syrian opposition forces’ fight against the cruel regime to be legitimate." "Now Russia has finally accepted the need to separate moderate opposition forces from terrorist groups. However, there are still some groups that keep denying it," Isik noted.
When speaking about Operation Euphrates Shield, the defense minister said that "Turkey’s Air Force has been operating in Syria’s air space controlled by Russia and the US-led coalition." "The operation is being conducted in full accordance with the international law. It is aimed at preventing terrorists from establishing a corridor in northern Syria and clearing the area of combatants," Isis said.
During the Operation Euphrates Shield, launched on August 24, "four tanks belonging to the Islamic State group (outlawed in Russia), 29 mortars, 97 vehicles including 41 vehicles mounted with weapons, 621 buildings, 61 firing-points, 28 command centers, 17 weapon caches as well as 11 car bombs have been eliminated," the Turkish defense minister said.
According to Syria's Al Ekhbariya TV channel, militants’ exit from eastern Aleppo has been completed. The Syrian Army Command is expected to issue a statement announcing the full liberation of Aleppo. However, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) remain at the Ramuse checkpoint in eastern Aleppo so the evacuation of civilians is likely to continue given the cold snap and snowy weather.