Turkish and Russian forces have carried out their ninth joint patrol along a key highway in northwestern Syria, Turkey's National Defense Ministry said Thursday.
"Within the framework of TUR-RF Agreement/Protocol, the ninth TUR-RF Combined Land Patrol on M-4 Highway in Idlib was conducted with the participation of land and air elements," the defense ministry said on Twitter.
The M4 highway, also known as the Aleppo-al-Hasakah road, is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Turkey's southern border.
The eighth joint patrol was carried out on May 5.
This March, Ankara and Moscow agreed on a protocol urging parties to "cease all military actions along the line of contact in the Idlib de-escalation area."
The protocol said joint Turkish-Russian patrols would begin on March 15 along the M4 highway from the settlement of Trumba – 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) to the west of Saraqib – to the settlement of Ain al-Havr.
In the last few years, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have worked closely to try to resolve the nine-year conflict, proving that the unique dialogue between the two leaders may overcome the countries' differences in the end.
They managed to coordinate their interests by avoiding direct confrontation between their forces in Syria, even though Moscow has been backing the Bashar Assad regime while Ankara has supported opposition groups.
Idlib has long been under siege by Assad regime forces and its allies, and previous cease-fires for the region were plagued by violations.
Especially since April 2018, the attacks on the last opposition stronghold dramatically intensified and caused new waves of refugees to move toward the Turkish border, putting the country, which already hosts 3.7 million Syrians, into a difficult position.
As a result, Turkey, which has the second-largest army in the transatlantic NATO alliance, has funneled troops and equipment into the region to stop the Syrian regime's advance and to avoid a fresh wave of refugees.
Currently, Turkish soldiers are stationed in the region to protect the local population and counterterrorism groups.
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