Around 300,000 Refugees Back Home Thanks To Ceasefire In Idlib - Turkish Defense Minister

ANKARA (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 25th May, 2020) Around 300,000 Syrian refugees have managed to return home after Russia and Turkey agreed upon a ceasefire in Syria's Idlib de-escalation zone, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday.

"We have done our best to find a political solution in Idlib. The ceasefire is respected in general despite a range of minor violations. As a result of the ceasefire, around 300,000 Syrian brothers have managed to safely come back home," Akar said, as quoted by the Anadolu news agency.

The Turkish armed forces continue fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (designated as a terror organization and banned in Turkey) in Syria and Iraq's north, the defense minister added.

"Since January 1, 1,458 terrorists have been neutralized there in counterterror operations," Akar said.

Tensions escalated in Idlib in late February, when militants from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group (banned in Russia) launched a large-scale offensive against Syria's governmental troops, prompting the Syrian army to respond. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Turkish military, who were not supposed to be there, came under the response fire as well.

The situation improved after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed upon the Idlib ceasefire at negotiations held in Moscow on March 5. They also agreed upon joint patrol of the strategically important M4 highway, which connects Aleppo and Latakia.