On September 17, sporadic clashes continued between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and members of various militant groups led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the southern part of Idlib province and the northwestern part of Hama province.
According to pro-government source, SAA units engaged militants in the villages of Tal Othman and al-Zaka. Artillery duels were also reported at other points in the afrorementioned areas.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived the Russian city of Sochi to discuss with his counterpart Vladimir Putin political, military and economic issues, including the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib. Erdogan is accompanied by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, head of the Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT) Hakan Fidan, Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Presidency Communications Director Fahrettin Altun.
“I believe that not only of our region, but also the eyes of the whole world are now on Sochi,” the Turkish president said, adding that the results of the Sochi talks will bring new hope to the region.
Results of the talks between Russian and Turkish top leadership will directly impact the situation in Syria and a possible peaceful settlement on the conflict. Currently, the sides have some obvious contradictions on the situation in Idlib, where Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies control a major part of the area. The Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance aims to eliminate the terrorists. However, Turkey insists that the area is mostly controlled by the “opposition” and opposes any kind of military operation there.