Turkey resumes Syria patrols with Russia

Turkish and Russian troops have resumed joint military patrols in northern Syria after a two-week pause, the Moscow Times said on Tuesday.

The Turkish and Russians presidents reached a deal in October to end an eight-day cross-border Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish groups, stating that joint patrols would be conducted in areas not captured in the offensive to ensure Turkey’s border security.

Turkish and Russian troops have also been conducting joint military patrols in the last rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib since March last year, following a trilateral summit in the Russian resort of Sochi.

But the killing of 13 Turkish soldiers by Russian-backed Syrian government forces in Idlib province this month has raised tensions between Ankara and Moscow, and Turkish personnel stopped showing up for the joint patrols, the Moscow Times said.

Turkey and Russia agreed in 2018 to establish a demilitarised zone in Idlib to prevent an offensive by the Syrian government. But Syrian government forces last month intensified their assault on the province and Turkey has reinforced its presence there this month.