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Turkey Digs In Its Heels in Idlib

Ryan Bohl
Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor
Feb 5, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
Turkish-backed Syrian fighters man an anti-aircraft gun in Saraqeb, in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on Feb. 1, 2020.

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters man an anti-aircraft gun in Saraqeb, in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on Feb. 1, 2020. Turkey and Russia could be on a collision course in the province.

(OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Moscow and Ankara’s long-standing alliance of convenience is set to face a trial by fire in northwestern Syria. A Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian offensive to retake Idlib appears poised to roll back Turkish influence in the area and send a new wave of refugees to Turkey, which is already hosting 3 million Syrians. On Feb. 3, Syrian government shelling killed five Turkish soldiers in Idlib, prompting Turkey to respond with an array of strikes against Syrian government positions. The tit-for-tat strikes herald a new, dangerous phase for the conflict in Idlib, as Syrian government forces, with Iranian and Russian support, push deeper into the province, leading Turkey to respond with the deployment of new forces directly in the path of advancing Syrian troops. For Turkey, it's a game of high-stakes military pressure to buy time for negotiations to ensure that there is no new flood of refugees to Turkey and...

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