Putin and Erdogan to work together on Syrian 'safe zones' as relationship thaws

Josie Ensor
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin in Sochi - AP POOL

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on Wednesday to support the formation of "de-escalation zones" in Syria, saying both Russia and Turkey wanted to bolster the fragile truce in the war-ravaged country.

The meeting between the former foes, which took place in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, reflected possible growing cooperation between nations once deeply at odds over Syria’s conflict.

"We both proceed on the basis that - and this is our common position - the creation of safe zones should lead to further pacification and cessation of hostilities," Mr Putin told a news conference alongside Turkish counterpart Mr Erdogan.

The zones, according to a draft document seen by The Telegraph, would be located in the rebel-held Idlib Governorate, north of the city of Homs, in eastern Ghouta and in the south of Syria.

Mr Putin said the proposed safe zones in Syria should become no-fly areas if fighting on the ground stops entirely.

US president Donald Trump has already expressed his support for such a plan, hoping it will reduce the flow of refugees. 

The plan to create "de-escalation zones" was set to be discussed at fresh peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana on Wednesday but rebels suspended their participation in protest at air strikes on civilians.

Rebels officials said that they objected to several clauses of the proposal and could not accept it in its current state. 

Syria war timeline

 

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