Skip to main content

Syrian opposition-controlled areas protest Ankara-Damascus rapprochement

Syrians are speaking out against a potential Turkish-Syrian rapprochement, with opposition-held areas holding vigils and protests across Aleppo and Idlib governorates.
Demonstrators raise Syrian opposition flags and placards as they rally against a potential rapprochement between Ankara and the Syrian regime, al-Bab, on the border with Turkey, in Syria's northern Aleppo province, Dec. 30, 2022.

Protesters held a vigil in Idlib on Tuesday in protest of the Turkish rapprochement with the Syrian government.

Protests have been taking place across different Syrian cities in Aleppo and Idlib governorates. According to media reports, several hundreds of Syrians were protesting last week in al-Bab against any reconciliation efforts with the Syrian government.

Also on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hosted a meeting with the Syrian opposition seemingly to calm the public reaction galvanized against such a potential scenario.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated similar reassurances. He was quoted by Turkish media as saying, “There is no question of us doing anything against our Syrian brothers and sisters living in Turkey and Syria. We have never and never will consider behavior that would put them in trouble."

Al-Bab is controlled by rebel factions backed by Ankara. Similar protests were also held in other rebel-held towns. In the northwestern city of Idlib, controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, slogans hostile to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were raised voicing their opposition to such a deal.

There have been ongoing demonstrations following a meeting between the defense chiefs of Turkey and Syria in Moscow. Ankara has indicated that such a rapprochement would continue in 2023 through a meeting between the foreign ministers.

Cavusoglu tweeted pictures of his meeting with the Syrian opposition reiterating Turkey’s support to the Syrian opposition and "its people."

Why it matters: Turkey’s internal politics have been challenged with increasing calls by the Turkish opposition for the voluntary return of almost 4 million Syrian refugees who are currently residing in Turkey. In addition, anti-refugee sentiments have been increasing among the population. Kurdish groups also called on the Turkish president to recall the troops.

With presidential elections in Turkey set for June of this year, Ankara’s backing of factions in the Syrian war and the Kurdish issue are in the public spotlight.

Know more: Cavusoglu had stated on Saturday that he might be meeting his Syrian counterpart in mid-January, following Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s offer to hold a three-way meeting between the top Turkish, Syrian and Russian diplomats.

The latter could potentially lead to a presidential summit between the Syrian, Turkish and Russian presidents.

Turkey and Syria have been engaged in a proxy war for 12 years now following Ankara’s support of opposition groups. According to Human Rights Watch, Turkey is home to around 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Security Briefing Security Briefing

Security Briefing

Middle East defense and security in your inbox

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial