Thousands back home in north Syria after Russia-Turkey deal

Syrian opposition activists say thousands of people who were recently displaced by violence in northwest Syria have returned home following a Russia-Turkey deal that averted a government offensive on the last major rebel stronghold.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday some 7,000 people have returned over the past two days to their towns and villages in rebel-held areas in and around Idlib province.

Syria-based activist Yazan Mohammed said the flow of people back to their homes started days before Monday's deal was announced between Russia and Turkey as residents were expecting it.

On Monday, the leaders of Russia and Turkey agreed to establish a demilitarized zone around Idlib where fears had been running high of a devastating offensive by Syrian government forces.