Turkey is working with Russia on how a disarmament zone inside Idlib, Syria will be set up and how terror groups will be driven out, a Turkish presidential aide said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara, Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), and special forces are working in coordination with Russia in the field.
His remarks came after Monday's landmark agreement between Turkey and Russia to establish a disarmament zone of 15-20 kilometers (9.3-12.4 miles) in Idlib, Syria’s last opposition stronghold, following a meeting in Sochi between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Ankara and Moscow also signed a memorandum of understanding calling for the “stabilization” of Idlib's de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Under the pact, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present, while Russia and Turkey will do joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing renewed fighting.
Kalin also said that Turkey expects the Manbij roadmap with the U.S. to be implemented as planned, with no delays.
“The Manbij roadmap is an important deal. We will stick to this and will do what is necessary.”
“But, simultaneously, the U.S. administration continuing to engage with the YPG and PYD is a source of serious concern to us,” he added.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated YPG terrorist group from the city in order to stabilize the region.
Washington has claimed the YPG is a “reliable ally” in the fight against Daesh, while Ankara has pointed to its status as an offshoot of the PKK, a recognized terrorist group which has taken some 40,000 lives in Turkey.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.