04:21 GMT +311 December 2019
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    A picture shows a general view during a fifth round of Syria peace talks on July 5, 2017, in Astana

    Turkish, Russian Defence Ministers Reaffirm Commitment to Syria Agreements - Statement

    © AFP 2019 / STANISLAV FILIPPOV
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar held phone talks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday in which the ministers reaffirmed their two countries' commitment to the agreements reached in Sochi and during the Astana process on the deescalation of violence in Syria, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

    "[Turkish] Defence Minister Hulusi Akar held phone talks today with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. ... During the talks the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the terms of the agreements reached in Sochi and Astana [now called Nur-Sultan]. The two sides exchanged views on measures that should be taken in order to attain stability, peace and ceasefire in the [Syrian] region", the ministry said.

    The statement said that the two ministers emphasized regional security as a top priority in their efforts to deescalate the violence in Syria.

    During September 2018 talks in the Russian resort city of Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed that by 15 October they would set up a demilitarized zone in Idlib along the contact line of the armed opposition and the government forces.

    Syrian reconciliation has been discussed at various platforms, including during Astana-format talks, aimed at promoting dialogue between the parties to the conflict and consolidating the ceasefire in the Arab country. The first round of reconciliation negotiations between Russia, Turkey and Iran was held in late 2016.

    In early May, terrorists increased the frequency of attacks on the Syrian provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.

    They have also been attempting to attack the positions of the Syrian army in the region. Syrian government forces have responded by attacking terrorists in the province of Idlib.

    There are reportedly over a dozen militant groups in this Syrian province. The National Front for Liberation, a pro-Turkish alliance, and the Nusra Front terror group have the largest presence in the area.

    Last week, Russia initiated an agreement on the full cessation of hostilities in the Idlib deescalation zone.

    Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting against numerous opposition groups as well as militant and terrorist organizations. Russia and Turkey, along with Iran, are guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria.

    *Nusra Front is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.

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