Skip to main content

Recent escalations in Idlib present Russia with tall order

As the situation in Idlib heats up, Russian-Turkish "marriage of convenience" gets tested, but it may be too early to call for the divorce.
A Syrian army soldier gestures in Maarat al-Numan, Syria, January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Yamam Al Shaar - RC2GQE9GEP2D

The situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone became seriously complicated Feb. 3. Turkey’s Defense Ministry reported the deaths of several Turkish troops and civilians in the Syrian province of Idlib as a result of shelling by the Syrian government forces. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who at the time was on a visit to Kiev, claimed that among the killed were three civilians and five soldiers. In retaliation, the Turkish artillery struck at the positions of the Syrian army in the area. The Russian Defense Ministry, in turn, said Ankara did not warn Moscow of the military activity in Idlib.

This incident has become a climax of yet another Russian-Turkish crisis over the Idlib issue that Al-Monitor reported earlier. Ankara claims that the Bashar al-Assad regime does not comply with a cease-fire in the de-escalation zone and Moscow is unable to restrain the Syrian president. Some Turkish politicians say that the new surge of violence has already led to 400,000 Syrian refugees fleeing toward Turkey. This makes the authorities react increasingly harsh to events taking place at the border where hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP) have already accumulated.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.