Although “acts of aggression” are already officially banned in the area, Moscow and Ankara reached the ceasefire deal to prevent further violence.

Smoke rises after an attack by Assad regime forces at a marketplace in the Jisr al Shughour district located inside northern Syria’s de-escalation zones, in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on May 14, 2019.
Smoke rises after an attack by Assad regime forces at a marketplace in the Jisr al Shughour district located inside northern Syria’s de-escalation zones, in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on May 14, 2019. (AA)

A new ceasefire in an area of northwestern Syria rocked by violence is set to start just after midnight on Sunday, January 12, Turkey announced Friday.

Turkey had pushed hard for the ceasefire, coming after Idlib, Syria endured months of battering by the Assad regime and its allies, sending about a million war-weary civilian refugees flocking to the Turkish border.

"Turkey and the Russian Federation have agreed on the implementation of the ceasefire in order to stop air/land attacks, prevent new refugee waves and contribute to ensuring that life returns to normal within the Idlib De-escalation Zone," Turkey’s National Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The ceasefire will take effect in less than 30 hours, at 2101GMT on January 12, or just after midnight in Turkey. 

Assad attacks continue

Separately on Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced a ceasefire in the region taking effect at 1200GMT.

Following Russia's move, Assad regime forces on Thursday shelled the city of Maarat al Numan and the villages of Maar Shoreen, Talmenes, and Maar Shamshah, and continued on Friday to bombard Maarat al Numan and Talmenes.

The Assad regime also launched ground operations to take more villages and towns in the southern countryside of the Idlib province.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-militarised zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

Since then, more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by the Syrian regime and Russian forces in the de-escalation zone as the ceasefire continues to be violated.

Over 1 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the last year.

According to the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the Idlib province is home to around 3 million civilians, 75 percent of them women and children.

Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making Turkey the world’s top refugee-hosting country.

Ankara has so far spent $40 billion for the refugees, according to official figures.

Source: AA