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Turkey plays extra time in Idlib game with new ‘army’ plan

Turkey is reportedly planning to forge a unified militia army in Idlib, but discord among armed groups and the clout of jihadi factions stand out as major stumbling blocks in the way of the new game plan.

Ever since early March, when Russia and Turkey sealed a deal on Idlib, it's been an open question as to how Turkey will force the armed groups controlling the last rebel stronghold to toe the line. Since then, Turkey has doubled its military presence and, according to Syrian opposition sources, has a new plan to merge rebel factions into an “organized army” under the control of the Turkish military.

Turkey has responded in a lenient and controlled manner to protesters hampering Turkish-Russian patrols on the M4 highway, suggesting that Turkey prioritizes a silver-tongue approach. In the Moscow deal, however, Turkey renewed its commitment to eliminating terrorist groups. Yet the plan to transform armed groups into an “organized army” involves some of the factions on the target board in Idlib. 

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