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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Full text of Turkey-Russia memorandum on Idlib revealed

Exclusive: Document calls for the reopening of routes between Aleppo and regime-held areas

Russian President Vladimir Putin  shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their joint press conference. AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin  shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their joint press conference. AFP

The Memorandum on Stabilisation of the Situation in Idlib signed by Turkey and Russia on Monday calls for the reopening of transit traffic between Aleppo and both Latakia and Hama, allowing Ankara and Damascus to resume trade routes that had been halted during the war.

The document, obtained exclusively by The National, lists a 10-point plan to avoid an offensive in the northwestern Syrian province. Aside from the demilitarized zone, which would go “15-20 kms deep in the de-escalation area”, the document grants the Iranian-Russian-Turkish coordination centre a role in implementing the ceasefires. The centre was established under Astana talks.

“Effective measures will be taken for ensuring sustainable ceasefire regime within the Idlib de-escalation area. In this regard, the functions of the Joint Iranian-Russian-Turkish Coordination Center will be enhanced,” it said.

Both the Assad government and Iran welcomed the agreement on Tuesday.

The document also declares that transit traffic “on the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored by the end of 2018.”

These routes have not been active since 2014, but have become viable again after the government, backed by Russia and Iran, recaptured Aleppo in December 2016. Those routes would help resume trade between neighboring Turkey and regime-held areas. The document says these steps are a way “to ensuring free movement of local residents and goods and restoring trade and economic relations”.

It indicates that more work needs to be done for a full agreement on the 15 km demilitarised zone. It says that “the delineation of exact lines of the demilitarised zone will be determined through further consultations”. It also adds that “the two sides reiterated their determination to combat terrorism in Syria in all forms and manifestations”.

The document has been already sent to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and current President of the Security Council, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

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