Putin said he and Erdogan agreed on a joint document during talks in Moscow, which lasted more than six hours. It also reignited a controversial debate within Europe over refugees after Turkey abandoned a previous deal with the European Union to stop the influx of migrants into its territory. Greece, through which most Syrian refugees and economic migrants from other countries hope to reach Europe, has closed its eastern border with Turkey and refused to take in refugees. They support the opposing parties in the conflict, but both leaders have said they want to reach an agreement before starting talks. But the question is whether Assad is equally convinced of the deal. The deal resembles a new confirmation of the Sochi agreement in September 2018, in which Russia promised not to attack Idlib, while Turkey promised to disarm jihadist groups, except that Turkey lost a key part of the province in the new pact. Thursday`s deal raised hopes that after weeks of failed diplomacy, tensions between Moscow and Ankara would ease over ways to quell clashes in which Turkey and its allies, entrenched in Syria`s last rebel stronghold against Russian-backed Syrian government forces, could collapse. The deal, like a previous Deal on Idlib reached by Putin and Erdogan in September 2018, is unlikely to end the war in Syria, which began nine years ago and has killed up to 400,000 people, most of them civilians. It was also unclear whether Mr. Assad, who was not part of the agreement, would respect it. According to Altun, Erdogan also said Turkey expected the regime to be required to abide by the Sochi agreement. Russia on Friday requested a closed meeting of the UN Security Council to brief members of the deal, a diplomatic source told AFP. “It`s going to end as before,” the 33-year-old father of four said, referring to a 2018 deal in the Russian city of Sochi, creating a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib.
The agreement will also create a security corridor along the important M4 highway in northern Syria, where Turkish and Russian forces will launch joint patrols from March 15. In recent years, Erdoğan and Putin have met several times to coordinate their actions in Syria. In September 2018, they reached a de-escalation agreement on Idlib that prevented a Syrian offensive. The agreement created a safe zone free of heavy weapons, overseen by Turkish troops. But the pact eventually collapsed. At the same time, Syria has insisted in recent days that it continue its offensive, a position that could complicate Syria`s relations with Moscow if Putin wants to ensure that Thursday`s deal with Erdogan is imposed. Erdogan added that these strikes could not change Turkey`s attitude towards Idlib and reminded Russia to take responsibility for stopping the Assad regime on the basis of Article 3 of the Sochi agreement, Altun said. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “hopes that this agreement will lead to an immediate and lasting cessation of hostilities that will ensure the protection of civilians in northwestern Syria,” his spokesman said in a statement Thursday. Mr Putin has doubled his bet on Mr Putin. Erdogan in September 2018 agreeing, during a meeting with the Turkish leader in Sochi, on the Black Sea, against the advice of his own generals, to dissuade Syrian forces from a long-planned offensive on Idlib. The full text of what was agreed in Sochi was never released, but the deal was widely seen as an attempt by Mr Putin to consolidate a partnership with Mr Erdogan, who had done so much to divide and undermine NATO. They said the agreement contained a ceasefire that would take effect at midnight in Idlib, the last stronghold of the Syrian rebels.
The deal also included joint patrols by Russian and Turkish troops in a seven-mile-wide corridor along a highway that leads from the Mediterranean coast east through Idlib toward the border with Iraq. . . .