Russia says Syria Idlib deal going ahead despite missed deadline

Extremist rebels still in Syrian buffer zone, Kremlin says

TOPSHOT - A Syrian rebel-fighter from the National Liberation Front (NLF) walks in a street in the rebel-held al-Rashidin district of western Aleppo's countryside near Idlib province, on October 15, 2018. Jihadists in Syria's Idlib failed to meet a deadline to leave a planned buffer zone ringing the country's last rebel bastion, casting fresh doubt over a deal to avert bloodshed.  / AFP / Aaref WATAD
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The Kremlin on Tuesday said a Russian-Turkish deal to create a demilitarised buffer in Syria's Idlib province was going ahead, despite extremist groups missing a deadline to leave the zone the day before.

"According to the information we are receiving from our military, the memorandum is being implemented and the military are satisfied with the way the Turkish side is working," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Moscow supports the Syrian regime while Ankara backs the rebels in the conflict.

"Of course one cannot expect everything to go smoothly with absolutely no glitches, but the work is being carried out," Mr Peskov said.

The accord is a last-ditch effort to stave off a regime onslaught on Idlib, the largest rebel stronghold left in war-ravaged Syria and home to around three million people.

But the target date for the withdrawal came and went on Monday without any hardliners leaving, the opposition-aligned Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syria's government said it would take "time" to judge if the deal had failed, adding that it would have to wait for the reaction of Russia.

More to follow.


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