ANKARA, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Turkey and Russia will begin joint patrols in Syria's northern province of Idlib, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday.
Speaking in an interview with the state-run Anadolu news agency, Akar said the joint patrols in the de-escalation zone will be an important step for maintaining cease-fire and ensuring stability.
Akar denied concerns that Turkey was in direct contact with the Syrian government, saying Ankara was only holding talks with Russia and Iran when needed.
He said Turkey expects the Syrian regime to respect the truce in Idlib, adding that Russia should prevent the Syrian regime from carrying out attacks on Idlib.
Under the framework of Astana talks among Turkey, Russia and Iran, the three countries are guarantors of cease-fire in Idlib and agree to establish de-escalation zone in the region.
Turkey has established 12 observation points from Idlib's north to south in order to monitor and sustain the cease-fire agreement, deliver humanitarian aid and to keep control on case of a mass influx.