Turkey wants to maintain cease-fire in Idlib

11 September, 2018, 09:29 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Vladimir Putin Hassan Rouhani and Tayyip Erdogan

"We have brought the Syrian opposition to the negotiating table in Geneva and launched the Astana process alongside Russian Federation and Iran", he said, adding Turkey consequently managed "to broker ceasefires, create de-escalation zones and evacuate civilians from areas under regime attack".

The United Nations is deeply concerned. The Russian Defense Ministry spent the last several weeks pushing a story that the White Helmets are kidnapping children to use as victims in a staged chemical attack in Idlib, acting under the direction of British security experts.

But Russian and Syrian regime air raids on Idlib have intensified in recent days, with a hospital among the targets.

The United Nations has warned of a major humanitarian catastrophe if the offensive takes place in the enclave where some three million people live - about half of whom have already been displaced in the seven-year war.

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The threat comes after it recaptured areas around the capital Damascus and in southern Syria earlier this year, through a combination of deadly bombardment and surrender deals.

That happened to be an Obama Administration official expressing support for the jihadists, and when he was asked by his interviewer "Did the world fail Syria?" he answered "Sure".

On April 13, US bomber jets, warships, and an attack submarine launched strikes along with French and British fighter jets in a more sweeping attack. It is also alarmed by efforts by USA -backed Kurdish YPG forces - regarded by Ankara as an affiliate of PKK separatists it has been battling for decades - to recapture northern areas held by Turkish forces.

"We are not in a hurry to go", said James Jeffrey, the retired Foreign Service officer brought back to handle the Syria account.

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Russia's troops are in Syria at the invitation of Syria's Government and they have provided crucial assistance to restore the Government's control over areas that the jihadists (sometimes called "Radical Islamic Terrorists" or otherwise) had seized.

Erdogan fears that the Syrian army's recapture of Idlib would send hundreds of thousands more refugees streaming to his border. "There are a number of different ways we could respond if Assad were to take that reckless, risky step".

Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, believes the president's abrupt shift in strategy is the result of increasing Russian and Iranian influence in Syria.

The 2,200 USA troops in Syria will remain until we see "the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces and the establishment of a stable, non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians". In a paper published on Friday, O'Hanlon and his colleagues at Brookings argued for a "10-degree shift" in US policy on Syria that includes maintaining the current military presence in the northeast and east, and working with Assad's allies, such as Russian Federation, to persuade him to eventually step down.

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Pointing out that the regime's indiscriminate attacks are "not a genuine or effective campaign against terrorism", Erdoğan once again highlighted the importance of a complete cease-fire in the region. "We have political tools at our disposal, we have economic tools at our disposal". Pro-government forces control a southeastern chunk.

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