Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has claimed that Turkey and Russia will begin patrols in and around the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, under a deal reached last fall, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.
“Today, Russia will begin patrols in the border area outside Idlib, while Turkish Armed Forces patrols will start in the demilitarized zone,” Akar told Anadolu’s “Editors’ Desk.”
The deal last September set up a demilitarized zone in Idlib and other areas, but the Syrian regime has repeatedly violated the cease-fire in Idlib, Akar added.
Akar also stressed that Turkey purchasing an S-400 missile defense system from Russia was “not a choice but a necessity.”
The S-400 system will be installed in Turkey starting in October, he said, adding that the Turkish Air Forces are studying where to deploy the missiles.
The purchase has been criticized by the Pentagon, which warned that the S-400 cannot be integrated with NATO systems and would hurt Turkish-US ties as well as Turkey’s role in NATO.
But Turkish officials have repeatedly said even if Turkey were to buy US Patriot missiles, it would not cancel the S-400 deal, to which it is already committed.