Turkey’s armed forces maintain their presence in the province of Idlib, Syria, just across Turkey’s southern border, said the Turkish defense minister early Thursday.

Rebuffing any claim that Turkey has withdrawn from the region of northwestern Syria, Hulusi Akar told reporters in the capital Ankara that “our elements maintain their presence.”

On talks between Turkish and Russian military officials on starting joint patrols in Idlib, under the terms of a cease-fire reached last week, Akar said: “The Russian military delegation arrived and talks continue. We reached a great deal of agreement.”

He added: “Our forces have been ordered to

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