Erdogan says Turkey's ceasefire calls in Idlib yielded results

Iran vows to protect civilians in Syria's Idlib province

The group denies it is linked to al-Qaida.

The UN said more than 30,000 people have already been displaced inside Syria by airstrikes on Idlib in recent weeks.

Armed groups in Idlib province - increasingly dominated by Islamist extremists - have since early August been arresting people who promote and pursue reconciliation and surrender agreements with the Syrian regime, according to statements from members of the opposition, the armed groups themselves and an Idlib-based activist who talked to CNN last week.

In the provincial capital, Idlib city, and in towns including Kafranbel, Dana, Azaz, Maaret al-Numan and al-Bab, demonstrators filled the streets after noon prayers and chanted against Assad, raising the tri-color green, white and black flag that has become the banner of Syria's 2011 uprising, activists said.

"The territory controlled by the Syrian opposition must be demilitarized, and the Syrian opposition that is holding these territories will remain there".

Turkey and the United States reject the possible offensive in Idlib, citing that it could cause great civilian casualties and even a humanitarian disaster.

For the past two years, Idlib saw an influx of an estimated 20,000 rebel fighters from around the country after their losses to government troops and surrender deals negotiated with Russian Federation and Damascus following devastating sieges. It was also not immediately clear how much of the city of Idlib fell within the zone. Experts saw this as a move by Erdogan to exert pressure on Russian Federation and the Syrian regime, by creating a reminder that these rebel factions could move once more on cities such as Aleppo that have already been recaptured by the Syrian regime.

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He said Russian Federation has also refrained from its accusations that the rebels are all terrorists.

Putin, for his part, said Turkey-Russia relations "are developing positively".

Turkey has warned strongly against military action, saying it would trigger a humanitarian catastrophe.

As Syrian state forces were poised to invade Idlib, Russia accused militants of conducting attacks and said it was preparing humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians.

He said the Russians reached the agreement without negotiating it first with the Syrian government, pointing to Shoigu's comments that Moscow will discuss the deal with the Syrian government later. But the strikes eased on Wednesday amid talks between the opposition's main regional sponsor Turkey, and Russian Federation and Turkey.

Other Islamists, and groups fighting as the Free Syrian Army banner, are now gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the "National Front for Liberation".

"Turkey offered Putin a ladder with which to climb down from the tree, threatening a military offensive in Idlib that had little chance for success", Ahmed Ramadan, a spokesman for the exiled Syrian political opposition, told The Associated Press.

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