BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Tuesday that Turkey was capable of carrying out its obligations under its Idlib deal with Russia, which involves the removal of armed radicals from a demilitarised zone that Ankara will patrol.
Turkey is a supporter of Syrian rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad. Its deal last month with Russia - an ally of Assad - averted a Syrian government assault on Idlib, the last major rebel foothold in Syria.
“According to our information, we believe that Turkey is capable of carrying out its obligations,” Moualem said in an interview with the Lebanese channel al-Mayadeen, referring to the Sochi agreement Ankara struck with Moscow over Idlib.
Under the agreement, a demilitarised buffer zone patrolled by Russian and Turkish forces will run 15-20 kilometres (10-12 miles) deep along the contact line between the insurgents and government forces.
The deal also requires the withdrawal of insurgents deemed “radical” by Turkey from the area by October 15. The Turkish army has had a small presence along the contact line since setting up a series of observation posts earlier this year.
In the televised interview on Tuesday, Moualem also saidmilitants in Idlib needed to hand over their heavy and medium-sized weapons before December.
Reporting By Angus McDowall, Kinda Makieh and Omar Fahmy; Editing by Gareth Jones