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What Putin-Erdogan deal means for Idlib

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hammered out a deal on "demilitarizing" Idlib that both parties seem to be content with — yet serious political and military challenges persist.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia September 17, 2018. Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS - RC18F9BB9500

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Sochi Sept. 17 for what was initially seen as a final showdown over Idlib. The situation in the northern Syian province has been in the spotlight of all Middle East watchers for well over a month, with escalations between the two sides threatening a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Al-Monitor reported on earlier efforts between Russian and Turkish diplomats as well as military and intelligence officials to work out a “peaceful scenario” for Idlib, but it took a meeting between the two presidents to reach the agreement on a buffer zone. In fact, the Sochi meeting was the third personal encounter between the two presidents over the last three weeks.

“There is a lot to discuss and some issues are complicated. I am glad to see you, to be able to exchange opinions on this whole set of issues, and to search for solutions to matters still unresolved,” Putin noted in his opening remarks.

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