Russia and Turkey to Cooperate in Trying to Stabilize Syria’s Idlib Province

Rebel-held area is increasingly unstable amid rebel infighting

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held meetings on Wednesday on the situation in northern Syria’s Idlib Province. The two discussed cooperation on stabilizing the province.

Idlib Province is the last real rebel-dominated part of Syria. It’s a mess, and not just because the rebels have been packed into the area from several evacuation deals elsewhere in the country. Al-Qaeda has also been on a rampage recently, seizing much of the province from other rebel groups.

Al-Qaeda’s fight has chiefly been against Turkey-backed rebels, which is why Turkey is keen to stabilize the situation. The Russians made a deal with Turkey to hold off on fighting in Idlib, but clearly can’t keep that deal in place if al-Qaeda keeps spreading in the area.

In addition, the two sides also discussed the US proposal of a “safe zone” between Turkey and Syrian Kurdistan. Russia has not been directly involved in this plan, so far. The US proposed it to keep Turkey and the Kurdish YPG separated, though Turkey intends to still invade that part of Syria following a US pullout.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.