MOSCOW, March 15. /TASS/. The route of Russian-Turkish patrols in the Syrian province of Idlib has been shortened because of militants’ plans, which involved using women and children as human shields, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry pointed out that Russia and Turkey had carried out their first joint patrol mission along the M4 highway in Idlib earlier on Sunday. "The patrol’s route was shortened in light plans made by radical groups not controlled by Turkey," the statement added.
"Terrorists sought to use civilians, including women and children, as human shields," the ministry added.
Ankara has been given additional time to ensure the safety of troops taking part in joint patrols, the Russian Defense Ministry pointed out.
"Ankara has been given additional time to take measures aimed at eliminating terrorist groups and ensuring the security of troops participating in joint patrols along the M4 highway," the statement said.
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey agreed at their Moscow talks on March 5 that a ceasefire would be declared in Idlib on March 6 and a number of other measures would be taken to improve the situation in the Syrian province. In addition, Russia and Turkey agreed to launch joint patrols along the M4 highway, where a security corridor has been created. Besides, Moscow and Ankara reaffirmed their commitment to preserving Syria’s sovereignty and agreed to continue a determined fight against terrorism.