Turkish forces have started withdrawing from a military checkpoint south of the M4 highway connecting Syria’s Aleppo and Latakia governorates in preparation of the implementation of Russian-Turkish agreements.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Turkish forces moved cement blocks from the Turkish checkpoint in Qaston town in the Sahl Al-Ghab area in the northwestern Hama countryside towards the northern checkpoint.
The military Qaston checkpoint is located a few kilometers away from regime checkpoints in Jurin district.
The withdrawal of Turkish forces from the Sahl Al-Ghab area facilitates the access to the M4 highway and control over Jisr Al-Shughor city, noted the Observatory.
Turkish moves in Idlib to open the highway started recently and come as part of the implementation of an MoU signed with Russia in March 2020.
This could signal the first actual step for progress in the path of normalization of ties between Ankara and the Syrian regime under Russian sponsorship.
After a defense ministers’ meeting in Moscow on December 28, Ankara began to focus on reopening the M4 highway.
Reopening the highway was also discussed during normalization talks between Ankara and Damascus.
According to Syrian opposition sources and media reports, Türkiye wants to share supervision of the M4 with Russia and the Syrian regime.
At the present time, Syrian regime forces control most of the M4, but Türkiye and its loyalist factions are still running a small portion of the highway.
In an MoU signed on March 5, 2020, Russia and Türkiye agreed to establish a secure corridor near the highway, which runs east to west through Idlib, and hold joint patrols along the route.
They said the corridor would stretch 6 km to the north and 6 km to the south of the M4.