Turkey has sent the first of its troops across the border into Syria’s Idlib Province overnight, as part of a deployment which is intended to support the de-escalation deal brokered with Russia and Iran.
Officially this is supposed to be a reconnaissance operation, monitoring and ensuring that no one violates the safe zone set up around the province. The goal is to reduce fighting to the point that the Astana talks can negotiate some sort of settlement.
Turkey is allied with a lot of the rebels in Idlib, and their presence gives the deal more credibility than if Russian forces were monitoring it. At the same time, al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, based in Idlib, is also violently opposed to de-escalation.
Which means the Turkish troops’ presence could fuel fighting within the province, at least in the near-term. Nusra has sustained several major losses recently, however, and their ability to fight on a large scale at this point is uncertain.
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