Turkey Sends More Troops to Idlib Ahead of Meeting

Turkey will push Russia, Iran on shaky ceasefire

With Turkey-backed rebels mostly confined to Idlib Province, which they share with al-Qaeda factions, the Turkish military has deployed a number of additional troops into the area in the leadup to new diplomacy.

Talks between Turkey, Russia, and Iran are scheduled next week. Turkey is expected to push for ways to strengthen the state of the ceasefire in Idlib, which has crumbled at times, and led to fighting over the areas around the all-important highway.

Idlib was intended to be a deconfliction zone for rebels and their supporters, but what started as an overwhelmingly rebel-dominated area shrank precipitously as al-Qaeda supporters pushed deep into the territory of rival rebels.

That would’ve just left the rebel territory as another, albeit smaller, caliphate in Syria. The jihadists started fighting with government forces, and quickly the Syrian Army, backed by Russia, retook a bunch of important territory in southern Idlib.

Turkey’s not happy with what’s left of the rebel territory, and Russia surely isn’t going to try to convince Syria to re-cede the territory to the same rebels that couldn’t hold it last time. Turkey adds more troops to the region as a tacit threat to try to retake territory if there isn’t a settlement on offer, even though it’s highly unlikely that such an offer will be made.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. 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.