March 12 (UPI) -- Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Thursday that Ankara and Russian military officials have worked out most of the details of a cease-fire for Syria's northwest Idlib province.
Turkey and Russia have largely reached agreement about joint patrols in the battle-scarred province under terms outlined a week ago, Akar said.
Akar, however, rebuffed any claim that Turkey has withdrawn from Idlib, telling reporters Turkish elements "maintain their presence."
"The Russian military delegation arrived and talks continue," Akar said. "We reached a great deal of agreement."
"Our forces have been ordered to act accordingly if the ceasefire is violated and attacks continue. Everyone is ready at any moment ... We will continue to restart where we left off and hurt [government forces]."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday praised "significant" decreases in tensions in Idlib province, where the cease-fire has created a "de-escalation zone." They agreed last week to halt fighting after attacks intensified. Idlib is the last remaining stronghold of groups opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkish official Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier this week Turkish troops will patrol areas north of Syria's M-4 highway and Russian forces to the south.