Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday agreed to a cease-fire in northwestern Syria, following talks in Moscow on easing tensions in the region.
The two leaders said the cease-fire would take effect at midnight local time in the area of Idlib, where a Syrian and Russian offensive has driven more than one million civilians toward the Turkish border over the past three months. Idlib is the last remaining rebel stronghold.in Syria.“
I express hope that these agreements will serve as a good basis for a cessation of military activity in the Idlib de-escalation zone (and) stop the suffering of the peaceful population and the growing humanitarian crisis," Putin said.
Erdogan said they would “work together to supply aid for the Syrians in need” and said he reserved the right “to respond to all (Syrian) regime attacks in the field.”
The offensive has triggered what may be the world’s worst-ever humanitarian crisis, the United Nations has said.
Putin and Erdogan back opposing sides in the nine-year war, with Erdogan backing some Syrian rebel groups and Putin supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia and Turkey have previously reached multiple cease-fire agreements in Idlib but none has been successful.
The two leaders also agreed to secure a key highway in the Idlib area with joint patrols beginning next week.
The announcement comes days after Erdogan said he would open his borders to western Europe. Since then, migrants have massed at the Turkish-Greek border, leading to clashes with Greek police. Turkey hosts more than 3.5 million people from Syria.