The patrols carried out by Turkey and Russia in and around Syria's Idlib will be an important step for the continuation of the ceasefire and ensuring stability, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Friday.
"Today, Russia will begin patrols in the border area outside of Idlib while Turkish Armed Forces patrols will start in the demilitarized zone," Akar told Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk.
The deal last September set up a demilitarized zone in Idlib and other areas, but the Syrian regime has repeatedly violated the ceasefire in Idlib, Akar added.
On the topic of the proposed safe zone, Akar said it was final that the Turkish military would be deployed to the area along the Syrian border.
The minister also announced the lifting of all airspace restrictions in Idlib and Afrin as of March 8.
Akar said Turkish policy towards neighboring countries, especially Iraq and Syria, is based on their territorial and political sovereignty.
He shot down claims that Turkey was in direct contact with the Assad regime, saying Ankara was only holding talks with Russian and occasionally with Iran when needed.
Touching on Turkey's spat with the U.S. over Russian S-400 missile defense systems, Akar said Turkey was trying to establish an environment where its purchase of did not impact its procurement of the F-35 jets.
Talks with the United States on purchasing Raytheon Co. Patriot defense systems are continuing, the minister said, adding that the S-400 systems would begin to be installed in October