Wed 03 Jun 2020

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Turkish soldiers killed on “M4” highway… rapidly evolving developments on M4 international highway

Turkish soldiers on the border with Syria (Reuters) 

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Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held province, has seen in the past few hours, rapid developments on the key M4 international road that links the Syrian government-held provinces of  Aleppo and Lattakia in conjunction with the killing of two Turkish soldiers in an attack by “radical groups.”

Turkish forces carried out patrols in the area without the Russian vehicles, on the international road, yesterday, Thursday, 19 March, after the sit-in people allowed them to pass and remove mounds. 

Media activists known for being close to Hay’ at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), including Taher al-Omar, published videos showing Turkish patrols on the road between Trumba – Neirab and Tel Maseibin.

Al-Omar said that the Turkish patrols entered the area on their own, after rejecting Russian vehicles’ join, pointing out to the continuous sit-in on the road.

Media activist Ahmed Rahhal also published a recording showing the entry of Turkish armored vehicles and their movement on the international road.

According to Enab Balad’s correspondent, Turkey, for its part, has deployed cement mounds on the international road from Neirab town to Ariha in Idlib countryside.

This came in conjunction with the killing and injuring of several Turkish soldiers in Idlib countryside as a result of an attack on a military convoy with two explosive devices placed by “radical members” as Ankara described.

Turkey’s Ministry of Defense said, in a statement yesterday, that a Turkish patrol was attacked by extremist groups in Idlib countryside where two soldiers were killed, and another was injured. 

Turkey did not determine the responsible party, but charges were made against the Guardians of Religion Organization (GRO)  targeting the Turkish convoy since it controls the area jointly with the HTS.

However, the organization released no statements to confirm or deny these accusations.

The Rouse the Believers Operations Room, which includes jihadi factions, most prominent of which is GRO, issued a statement announcing its rejection to the Moscow agreement.

These jihadi factions considered, in the statement issued last Sunday, that “all international understandings and its conspiracies, the latest of which is the Moscow agreement, nothing but being stoned twice out of the same hole and sacrificing the whole revolution and its people for the international interests.”

For his part, the director of the Hmeimim Reconciliation Center affiliated to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Oleg Goravlov, stressed that Turkey is undertaking necessary measures to create safe conditions for conducting joint patrols on “M4”, aiming at implementing the Idlib agreement.

The Center called “leaders of the illegal armed formations in Syria to disarmament and seek paths of peaceful settlement in their controlled areas instead.” 

Both the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria, on 5 March. 

The agreement stipulated a ceasefire in Idlib on the seam that was established in accordance with the “de-escalation” areas, and the establishment of a safe passage to a depth of six kilometers north and south of M4 road.

In addition, the agreement provides for the comprehensive protection for all Syrians, returning the displaced ones, and conducting Turkish and Russian patrols, which will start on 15 March, along the Aleppo-Lattakia (M4) road between the two areas of Tarnbah, west of Saraqib, and Ain al-Hoor in the western countryside of Idlib.

However, these patrols were met with civil sit-ins and military groups on the international road, which has so far prevented the entry of Russian vehicles.

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