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Putin’s thin red lines in Syria rattle Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still has limited options in the wake of Syria's retaking of a key town in Idlib province.
A Syrian army soldier gestures in Maarat al-Numan, Syria, January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Yamam Al Shaar - RC2GQE9GEP2D

Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, retook Maaret al-Numan, a strategic town in Idlib province, and surrounding villages this week. Maaret al-Numan is a key node for the M5 highway linking Damascus with Aleppo, a long-sought Syrian military objective in the war.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Syrian and Russian victory seems to come with a cost. His close ally and friend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has publicly questioned Russian commitments to their deconfliction and cease-fire agreements in Syria; the latest cease-fire began Jan. 12. 

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