Turkey Demands Russia Stop Syria From Fighting in Idlib

Syrian forces enter al-Qaeda-held town of Saraqeb

After the Turkish military attacked and killed scores of Syrian soldiers in the same area, Syria has launched a new offensive against al-Qaeda-held Saraqeb, and Syrian forces have reportedly entered the town.

Turkey is very averse to the idea of Syria taking any more territory from al-Qaeda, and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is demanding Russia immediately force Syria to stop all offensives in Idlib Province.

Cavusoglu said Russia must “immediately stop the regime,” and that Turkey considers Syria contesting these towns as a source of “humanitarian drama.”

Syria’s interest in Idlib, beyond it being part of Syria and just rife with Islamists, is that two towns, Maarat al-Numaan and Saraqeb, are on the main highway between Damascus and Aleppo. Syria would very much like full control of that highway, and having already taken the former town, they are pushing to take the later as well.

Russia is unlikely to get immediately involved, with the foreign ministry saying that some of its military specialists were killed in Idlib in attacks by militants in the deescalation zone. It’s the same area being contested, and the militants in question are the same Islamist bloc, including both al-Qaeda and some more overtly Turkish-backed factions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.