Under the agreement, Turkey was required to withdraw all extremist groups from the province, some of which are allied with the terrorist group Al Qaeda. MOSCOW (AP) – The russian and Turkish presidents have agreed on a ceasefire that is due to begin at midnight Thursday in northwestern Syria, where escalating fighting threatened to bring troops from both countries into a direct conflict. In recent years, Turkey and Russia have had to sit down several times at the negotiating table to reach an agreement on opposition-held areas in northwestern Syria. However, despite these agreements, the situation in the region, particularly in the northwestern province of Idlib, has only worsened and no clear solution is in sight. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is standing alongside his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, said he hoped their deal would lead to a halt to military action in Syria`s last major rebel stronghold in the northwest of the country. Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert at the Washington Institute, said the agreement “freezes the conflict on the ground.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “takes note” of the ceasefire agreement and hopes it will “lead to an immediate and lasting cessation of hostilities that will ensure the protection of civilians in northwestern Syria who have already suffered enormous suffering,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. On Saturday, Turkey rejected Russian accusations that it violated de-escalation agreements with Russia and Iran in Syria`s Idlib province and threatened to take military action in the region if diplomatic efforts with Moscow failed. The ceasefire came after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed last week in Moscow to end an offensive launched last year by the Syrian government to recapture Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the war-torn country. Both countries have many interests beyond Syria – from the conflict in Libya, where they support the opposing parties, to a recently opened pipeline from Russia to Turkey, to arms trafficking. They are therefore ready to negotiate and could one day reach a lasting agreement. The March 5 agreement is likely to follow the fate of all previous Idlib agreements and will soon disintegrate. While the ceasefire agreement would largely halt fighting in Idlib, Abdulrahman said, it could also allow Syrian government forces to maintain territorial gains made during the recent offensive.
At the start of the more than six-hour Kremlin talks, the two heads of state and government stressed the need for an agreement. One of the objectives was to prevent their bilateral relations and prosperous trade from harming.