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Kremlin says Putin, Merkel discuss Syrian settlement

The Russian president informed German Chancellor Merkel about the Russian-Turkish agreements on Idlib

MOSCOW, September 19. /TASS/. Russian President Valdimir Putin held a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussing among other issues the settlement of the ongoing Syrian conflict, the Kremlin press service announced on Wednesday.

"The issue of the Syrian issue settlement was discussed," the press service said in a statement. "The Russian president informed [German Chancellor Merkel] about the Russian-Turkish agreements on the stabilization efforts in the de-escalation zone in Idlib reached during talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 17 in Sochi."

September 17 talks between Putin and Erdogan, in Russia’s Sochi resulted in an agreement to establish a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib, along the contact line between government troops and the opposition by October 15.

In line with the reached agreement, opposition’s tanks, multiple missile launch systems, artillery systems and mortars must be pulled out from this zone by October 10. Control in the zone, according to the agreement, will be exercised by mobile patrol groups of Turkish troops and Russian military police.

Idlib is the only Syrian province still controlled by illegal armed groups. In 2017, a de-escalation zone was established in the region, where militants reluctant to lay down their arms can move together with their families. According to United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Idlib currently hosts about 10,000 militants from the Jabhat al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda terror groups (both outlawed in Russia).

This month Turkey deployed additional troops, artillery and missile launch systems to the border, particularly with Syria’s Idlib province, where Ankara established 12 observation points to monitor the situation in the de-escalation zone.