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Turkey works to secure its future relevance in Syria

Turkey’s efforts to make progress in Operation Olive Branch while working on new Syrian de-escalation monitoring outposts east of Idlib may increase military risks, but they keep Turkey in the game.
A Turkish military armoured vehicle guards on the border line located opposite the Syrian town of Atimah, Idlib province, in this picture taken from Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RC117E0C0980

While the Turkish news media is breathlessly reporting every minor detail of the military's offensive in Syria — describing movements village by village, hilltop by hilltop — Turkey is quietly taking major steps to erect another military observation outpost east of Idlib. The effort is part of the de-escalation negotiated last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, in which Turkey, Russia and Iran decided to impose and supervise a cease-fire to enable delivery of humanitarian assistance and allow displaced people to return to their homes.

Also according to the agreement, Turkey is to establish 12 observation posts, creating a mini buffer zone to contain areas in Afrin held by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). The goals are to separate Aleppo from nearby Idlib province, which is controlled mainly by the Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and to halt any YPG aspirations to move westward in Idlib province and create a corridor to the Mediterranean Sea.

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