Turkey, Russia cooperation to be hope for region: Erdoğan

Syrian engineers begin building underground hospitals

"The situation with Idlib is acute", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti state news agency ahead of the talks Monday.

Russian Federation and Turkey appeared Monday to avert a potential crisis in Syria's Idlib province, announcing they would establish a "de-militarization zone" to separate rebels from Syrian government troops.

Putin told a joint news conference with Erdogan the agreement was that all heavy weapons be withdrawn from the buffer zone, and that what he called radically-minded rebels, including the Nusra front, would have to pull out of the zone.

Erdogan said both his country and Russian Federation would carry out coordinated patrols in the de-militarised zone, and reiterated that the biggest threat to Turkey was the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), who control swathes of territory in northeast Syria.

Before the end of the year, roads between Aleppo and Hama, and Aleppo and Latakia must be reopened for transit traffic, he said. In what appears to a breakthrough solution, Putin and Erdogan have agreed to ensure peace with the help of Russian and Turkish troops. "But together with Russian Federation, we will put our efforts into clearing those territories of radical elements", he said, referring to al-Qaeda-linked extremists in Idlib.

"Let's all take steps, measures together against the terror groups among the opposition in Idlib", Erdogan said. He had previously warned of a surge in refugees hitting the country should a full-blown war break out in Idlib.

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Ramadan also said the deal offers the Syrian government and Russian Federation one of their main demands, which is securing the highway that passes through Idlib and links northern Syria with other cities.

Nearly 3 million civilians live in Idlib and fighting could provoke a massive new exodus of refugees to Turkey.

During the Tehran summit, Erdogan called for a ceasefire in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, where the Syrian regime is reported to be preparing to launch a major military offensive.

Turkey has carved out two enclaves in to the north and east, backing rebels there and setting up local administrations.

Now it appears that despite the rocky last few years of Russian-Turkish relations, the mutual trust built up between Putin and Erdogan has allowed them to overcome a clash of interests and reach a compromise.

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