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Erdoğan says Turkey to deploy troops inside Syria’s Idlib

President of Turkey and Chairman of the Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Reuters on Thursday that Turkey would deploy troops in Syria’s northern Idlib region as part of a so-called de-escalation agreement brokered by Russia last month.

The “de-escalation” zones, agreed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, would be further discussed in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip to Ankara next week, Erdogan said in an interview with Reuters in New York.

Describing “the de-escalation zone agreement” as a promising idea, the Turkish president said in accordance with the agreement the Russians are maintaining security outside Idlib, while Turkey will maintain security inside the Idlib region.

“The task is not easy. … With Putin we will discuss additional steps needed to be taken in order to eradicate terrorists once and for all to restore peace,” Erdoğan added.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced on Sept. 15 that Turkey, Iran and Russia had agreed to deploy observers to the boundaries of a de-escalation zone in the Idlib region of northern Syria, which is under the control of Islamist militants.

According to the agreement, four de-escalation zones to be set up in different parts of Syria will be functional for six months.

“Observers from these three countries will be deployed at check and observation points in safe zones that form the borders of the de-escalation zone,” the ministry statement said.

A total of 500 observers from each country are expected to protect the truce while preventing conflicts between the Syrian regime and the opposition.

Erdoğan also warned Washington that a decision to arm Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria could end up hurting Washington and its allies.

Turkey views the YPG as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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