Germany welcomes Turkey-Russia agreement on Idlib 

Foreign Minister Maas voices support for efforts to prevent humanitarian catastrophe in Syria

Germany welcomes Turkey-Russia agreement on Idlib 

Germany has welcomed on Tuesday an agreement between Turkey and Russia to establish a demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib province, the last major stronghold of the opposition groups. 

"We welcome all steps towards avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe," Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter, referring to the Turkey-Russia agreement. 

He called for concrete steps towards implementing the agreement. 

"The agreement in Sochi now needs to be implemented. This had not been possible for other agreements in Syria in the past years," he added. 

Maas met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week in Berlin and urged Moscow to avoid a large-scale military offensive in Idlib, which he said could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe and new refugee influx. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Monday, following their talks in Sochi, to establish a demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib province. 

Putin said the demilitarized zone will extend between 15 to 20 kilometers (9-12 miles) deep into Idlib by Oct. 15.

Turkish and Russian armed forces will conduct joint patrols along the zone's perimeter, according to the agreement. 

Located near the Turkish border, Idlib province is home to more than 3 million Syrians, many of whom fled from other cities following attacks by regime forces.

The Syrian regime had announced plans last month to launch a major military offensive to the area, long controlled by various armed opposition groups. 

The UN warned that such an offensive would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".

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