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Turkey's military deterrence breaks down in Syria's last rebel stronghold

Despite Turkey’s efforts to maintain the status quo in Idlib, a Russian-backed Syrian assault seems increasingly likely.
A Turkish-Russian military convoy tows a damaged vehicle after its joint patrol was reportedly targeted on the strategic M4 highway, near the Syrian town of Urum al-Jawz in the south of the northwestern Idlib province, on August 25, 2020. - Russia and Turkey launched joint patrols along the M4 highway in March following a ceasefire agreement aimed at stopping heavy fighting in and around Idlib, the last major bastion of anti-government forces in Syria's civil war. (Photo by Abdulaziz KETAZ / AFP) (Photo by

Clashes between the Syrian government forces and rebels in Idlib have significantly increased following Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Syria early September, marking a turning point for the Russian-Turkish cease-fire deal in the last rebel bastion.

The Syrian government forces and Russian fighter jets have intensified their attacks on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and other jihadist groups’ positions in and around Idlib province. In the past two weeks, Zawiyah Mountain between Idlib and Hama, Gap Plains to the southwest of Idlib and the Latakia countryside have been witnessing unprecedented heavy bombardments since the Russian-brokered cease-fire deal on March 5.

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