Russian Defense Minister meets with Assad in Syria at Putin’s request

Russian Su-35Sfighter jets escorted Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s aircraft into Syrian airspace to provide security, stated the Russian Defense Ministry, as quoted by RBC news agency. Shoygu made a working visit to Syria at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Damascus, the minister was met by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

During the talks, they discussed ensuring the ceasefire in the Idlib de-escalation zone and military-technical cooperation between Russia and Syria.

On March 20, during a telephone conversation, Putin and Assad discussed the situation in Syria, the agreements between Moscow and Ankara to stabilize the situation in Idlib.

After talks in Moscow on March 5, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a truce that took effect in the region the following day at midnight.

"Our task is to prevent the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the region. We will make every effort to provide the necessary assistance to all those in need, and we will also ensure that refugees return to their homes," Russia's Interfax quoted Erdogan as saying.

At the same time, Erdogan stressed that Turkey reserves the right to retaliate in the event of an attack by Syrian government forces. Erdogan promised that Turkey would be in contact with Russia on this issue.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the talks that an agreement had also been reached create of a 12-kilometer security corridor along the M4 highway. According to the minister, "specific parameters of the security corridor will be agreed by the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Republic of Turkey within seven days."

In addition, Lavrov said, an agreement was reached to begin joint Russian-Turkish patrols on the M4 highway on March 15 “from the town of Trumba, located two kilometers west of Saraqib, to the settlement of Ain al-Habr".

Erdogan stated that there is a need to change the status of the Idlib de-escalation zone, Turkish Anadolu New Agency reported.

"The formation of a new status quo in the Idlib de-escalation zone is inevitable against the background of tragic events resulting from attacks by Assad supporters, which also led to the death of Turkish soldiers," Erdogan said.

Erdogan stressed that all responsibility for the violation of the Idlib agreements lies with supporters of Bashar al-Assad. According to him, it was the aggressive actions of Assad's supporters that destabilized the region.

"Turkey is determined to continue implementing the peace initiatives, including the Sochi agreements, until a solution to the crisis in Syria is found, based on the territorial integrity and political unity of this country," Erdogan said.

Talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, face to face and after with the Russian and Turkish representatives, lasted 5 hours and 40 minutes in the Kremlin.

  Shoygu, Assad, Putin, Syria

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