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Russia eyes role in formation of Syria’s National Defense Forces

Amid the uncertainty over the future of Idlib, Russia eyes its participation in reforming Syria's National Defense Forces as a tool for balancing Iran's influence in the country.
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On Aug. 24, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusglu visited Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The situation in Idlib dominated the agenda.

At a joint news conference following the talks, Lavrov said, “There are many civilians there and there’s an armed opposition, which is interested in participating in the settlement processes. There are several tens of thousands of militants from the so-called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra group, who are trying to control this entire territory and hamper the efforts, in particular, undertaken by Turkey to separate healthy opposition from terrorist groups. These matters are being discussed by our foreign ministries. They are also discussed by our respective military, as well as our special services. We are not done yet. We will have additional meetings with the participation of all our colleagues, so we will be able to provide more information a little later.” (Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also was in Moscow on Aug. 24.)

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