A joint Turkish-Russian patrol scheduled for today in northern Syria’s Ayn al-Arab was canceled after regime attacks targeted Turkish soldiers in Idlib.
Six Turkish soldiers were killed and nine others injured in shelling by Bashar Assad regime forces in the opposition-held province.
Ankara and Moscow agreed to conduct the joint patrols during high-level talks between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Oct. 22 last year.
The two countries reached a deal under which PKK-affiliated YPG terrorists would pull back 30 kilometers south of Turkey's border with northern Syria.
The patrols were scheduled to be conducted in an area 10 kilometers into Syrian territory.
Located in northwestern Syria, Idlib province has been the stronghold of the opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the civil war.
It is currently home to some 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces from throughout the war-weary country.
Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the zone, killing at least 1,300 civilians since the agreement.
In a fresh move, Turkey announced on Jan. 10 that a new cease-fire in Idlib would start just after midnight on Jan. 12. However, the regime and Iran-backed terrorist groups continued their ground attacks.
More than 1.3 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks since the beginning of 2019.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democratic protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to U.N. officials.
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