Since its March 5 deal with Russia on Syria’s rebel-held province of Idlib, Turkey has remarkably increased its military presence in the region, while its plans to force radical groups to toe the line have given rise to some intriguing developments in jihadi ranks. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the group dominating Idlib, has adopted a conciliatory attitude toward Turkey after initial resistance to the reopening of the M4 highway, while a diehard radical camp sticks to its menacing posture.
In its latest show of pragmatist rapport with Turkey, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham allowed the Turkish lira to circulate in Idlib as an alternative to the embattled Syrian pound. The move was not without controversy, sparking criticism of indirect banking links with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which Turkey lists as a terrorist organization. Even more remarkably, however, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has made moves to rein in or undermine the intransigent radicals in Idlib.