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Russia gives Turkey one last month for solution in Syria

Ankara has won some breathing room in Syria, having one month to persuade radical forces to give up their guns, leave Idlib, join a Turkish-backed rebel alliance or face a crushing assault by the Syrian regime supported by Russian forces.

Seeking to prevent a bloodbath in Syria's Idlib province, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for five hours Sept. 17 in Sochi, after which Putin disclosed that a demilitarized buffer zone some 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) wide will be activated there, effective Oct. 15.

The decision puts on hold, at least for now, what had appeared to be an imminent attack on Idlib by Russian and Syrian regime forces seeking to conquer the remnants of radical opposition in the seven-year civil war. Such an attack, however, could endanger millions of civilians, along with what Turkey considers moderate rebel groups that have cooperated with Ankara. The Idlib buffer zone aims to separate Syrian regime forces from armed opposition, and moderates from radicals. All opposition groups are to withdraw their heavy arms.

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