Al-Qaeda Kills 22 Syrian Troops in Weekend Attack

Russia, Turkey hold talks on increasingly shaky buffer zone

Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front sent fighters across the demilitarized buffer zone in northern Syria this weekend, attacking Syrian military targets in Aleppo Province. At least 22 troops were killed, and over 20 wounded.

This has been a recurring problem at this buffer zone, the last of several zones established to try to limit fighting across Syria. While some are accusing al-Qaeda of “violating” the terms of the zone, al-Qaeda was never a party to the deal in the first place, and thus never expected to honor it.

This comes as Russia, Turkey, and Iran, the founders of this buffer zone, met abroad to discuss ways to shore up the peace in Syria, and try to move closer to ending the conflict. This is likely to include intense debate about the status of Idlib Province, which the zone cuts off from the rest of Syria.

When the deal was reached, Idlib was held mostly by Turkey-backed rebels. Since the area fell almost entirely to al-Qaeda, which means Syria, a part to the deal, is intended not to cross into Idlib, but al-Qaeda, who holds Idlib, is attacking with impunity.

Russia has responded to these attacks with airstrikes, which have been hitting populated Idlib areas and endangering civilians. At some point, it’s likely that Turkey is going to stop trying to keep this zone intact, and just like Syria and Russia sweep in and take the area back.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of