For the second day in a row, opposition supporters and activists in Greater Idlib continued their sit-in on the M4 highway in southern Idlib.
The sit-in began on March 13. The protesters are planning to prevent Russian and Turkish forces from conducting joint patrols on the highway in order to sabotage the recent Turkish-Russian agreement on Greater Idlib. Under the agreement, the first patrol should take place on March 15.
A unit of the Turkish military made an attempt to end the sit-in and open the highway on March 14 noon. However, the protesters refused to evacuate, forcing the unit to retreat.
The sit-in is by no mean peaceful, the protesters threatened to target any Russian unit that would approach the M4 highway. The threats were not limited to the protesters. A large unit of the Sham Corps, the biggest Turkish-backed group in Greater Idlib, released also a statement threatening Russian forces.
“Any Russian patrol that would enter our land will be a target for us,” the unit, known as the Ahl al-Sham Brigade, said in its statement.
Reopening the M4 highway, that links the coastal city of Lattakia with Aleppo city, is the keystone of the Russian-Turkish agreement on Greater Idlib.
Turkey is clearly making efforts to reopen the highway. However, this will not likely happen as radical militants are dominating in the area. Turkish forces appear to be unwilling to confront these militants.