Turkey will not launch major operation against militants in Idlib — analyst

Local clashes between Turkish forces and militants in Syria’s Idlib province are possible, but a full-scale military operation is not in Ankara’s interests, the head of the Near and Middle East Center at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Vladimir Fitin, told TASS in the wake of Turkey’s air strike against the positions of the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (one of the names of Jabhat al-Nusra outlawed Russia).

"Some local clashes are possible, of course. But it is in Turkey’s interests to retain its foothold in Idlib," Fitin said. "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham rules the roost there, so Ankara is keen to avoid any major clashes with them."

Fitin said the air raid was "one more episode of the overall turmoil." He believes it will not have any considerable effects.

"Lately, the Turks tried to reconfigure Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, to make it change the name and give its members a more civilized disguise, different from the image of outspoken radicals they have been lately," Fitin explained.

Clashes in Idlib are regular, because "there are too many armed groups of different sort, alongside Hayat Tahrir al-Sham."

"I believe that everything will remain the way it has been all along, in particular in view of the pandemic and the general decline in major armed operations," Fitin stated.

He stressed that Ankara had had more than 18 months since the achievement of agreements with Russia to separate the opposition from the terrorists in Idlib, but "it has turned out either unable or had no intention to do so."

After the latest agreement concluded in March Turkey "at least has taken several steps to show that it is trying to do something," but, according to the expert, it is very doubtful that it will manage to resolve the issue completely.

Turkey Syria