Behind the Turkish-Syrian Clash in Idlib

(Ha'aretz) Zvi Bar'el - In the most violent confrontation between Turkish and Syrian forces in recent times, six Turkish soldiers and a civilian working for the army were killed by Syrian government shelling Monday in Syria's Idlib province, which was followed by Turkish attacks on several Syrian military bases. Idlib, considered the final obstacle in the way of Bashar Assad's quest to regain total control of Syria, contains 50-70,000 rebel fighters from across Syria. Most belong to radical Islamist groups, and they include fighters from the Caucasus. None of the sides involved in the war have a feasible solution for how to get rid of these armed groups. Russia and Turkey signed an agreement in September 2018 according to which Russia and Syria were to abstain from comprehensive military action in Idlib. But Russian and Syrian forces have begun advancing on Idlib in a recent offensive, capturing key towns and villages. Turkey understands that a military campaign against Syrian forces could put it on a collision course with Russia, which has become its only superpower ally after its rift with the U.S. Russia is keen on ending the war in Syria quickly, so it can cut its outlays and transfer full control to Assad.

2020-02-06 00:00:00

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