Syria Daily: Turkey Toughens Line Against Pro-Assad Assault on Idlib

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: "I hope the situation in Idlib will normalize"

Turkey has toughened its line against any pro-Assad attempt to regain Idlib Province, the largest opposition territory in Syria.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Ankara, which has intervened in northern Syria alongside rebels from August 2016, will expand its oversight of an area also including parts of western Aleppo and northern Aleppo Provinces:

The number of the observation posts along the perimeter of the de-escalation zone in Idlib has reached 10. The agreements envisage the construction of 12 such posts. The remaining two will be built within the upcoming week. I hope that after the construction of the posts is completed the situation in Idlib will normalize.

Nominally, Idlib — which now has an estimated 2.5 million people, many of them displaced from other areas of Syria — was declared a “de-escalation zone” last year by Turkey, Russia, and Iran.

However, Iran backs the Assad regime’s goal of regaining control of Idlib, and Russia has regularly broken the de-escalation zone with airstrikes.

A pro-Assad offensive, enabled by Russian aerial operations, took key points — including Abu Duhur airbase — in western Aleppo Province and a slice of southeast Idlib Province over the winter. The offensive was paused in late January to redeploy pro-Assad forces for the reoccupation of East Ghouta near Damascus.

The Turkish military then set up their observation posts ringing the opposition territory. However, regime and Russian warplanes have continued periodic bombing across Idlib, causing scores of casualties.

Earlier this month, the UN warned both of an impending pro-Assad assault and a critical situation for the displaced in Idlib, with camps filled but more people arriving after the capitulation of areas such as East Ghouta and a pocket in northern Homs Province.

Jan Egeland, the UN’s head of humanitarian operations for Syria, said, “We cannot have a war in Idlib. I keep saying that now to Russia, to Iran, to Turkey, to the United States, to anyone that can have an influence.”

A Russian Response

Pro-opposition Nedaa Syria reported Sunday that Russia may be setting up its observation posts in eastern Idlib.

Citing pro-Assad media, the site said a Russian survey group toured the area across the Hijaz railway from the Turkish posts.

Turkish outlets portrayed Moscow’s step as one of a cooperative “exchange” for Turkish positions.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime continues its shelling of villages and towns in northern Hama Province — a man grieves over a resident slain in Haloba on Sunday night:

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. Erdogan: “I hope that after the construction of the posts is completed the situation in Idlib will normalize.” How can he be such a simpleton? His wooden shack outpost with a Turkish technical and a machine gun makes no difference to anything on the ground. He is delusional.

  2. Fake news travels 10 times wider and faster, and three times deeper (in retweet chain), than real news on Twitter. No wonder the Russians have invested so much in fake news factories.

    “In August 2015, a rumor circulated on social media that Donald Trump had let a sick child use his plane to get urgent medical care. Snopes confirmed almost all of the tale as true. But according to the team’s estimates, only about 1,300 people shared or retweeted the story.

    In February 2016, a rumor developed that Trump’s elderly cousin had recently died and that he had opposed the magnate’s presidential bid in his obituary. “As a proud bearer of the Trump name, I implore you all, please don’t let that walking mucus bag become president,” the obituary reportedly said. But Snopes could not find evidence of the cousin, or his obituary, and rejected the story as false.

    Nonetheless, roughly 38,000 Twitter users shared the story. And it put together a retweet chain three times as long as the sick-child story managed.”

  3. Idlib will emerge as a large prison for the remains of those that opposed Assad ( and worked with Turkey ). Gaza 2.0. Enjoy your new Turkish overlords

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