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The Latest: Putin announces demilitarized zone in Syria

September 17, 2018

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on a meeting between Russian and Turkish leaders on Syria (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says a demilitarized zone to separate Syrian forces and rebels in the Idlib region will be established by Oct. 15.

Putin made the announcement Monday after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said the zone will be patrolled both by Turkish forces and Russian military police.

Idlib is the last bastion of Syria’s rebels and concern has been high that a government assault on the city and its surroundings would be catastrophic for civilians. Turkey has opposed such an assault.

Putin said that the zone would be 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles deep).

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2:20 p.m.

The presidents of Russia and Turkey are meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in a bid to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis around a rebel-held region in Syria.

The province of Idlib in northwestern Syria is the largest bastion of the opposition, and Turkey has been eager to prevent a potential government offensive there.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday will be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the second time in just 10 days after Russia and Iran expressed support for the idea of an offensive.

Russia calls Idlib a hotbed of terrorism and says the Syrian government has the right to retake control of it. Turkey has appealed for a diplomatic solution and sent troops to the area to ward off the assault.

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