On August 18, local councils of several towns in the southern Idlib countryside released an official statement, in which they called on Turkey to place their areas under its direct mandate in order to prevent an attack of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies. Furthermore, the councils promised Turkey that they will facilitate its rule.
“We call upon the Turkish government to intervene immediately and expeditiously to implement the Turkish mandate and we promise that we will assist the Turkish brothers in administrating the region, we also call upon them to activate and revitalize educational, services, health and other institutions in the liberated areas,” the statement reads.
Most of these local councils are affiliated with the Turkish-backed Nation Front for Liberation (NFL) or the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
Since the outbreak of the Syrian war, many local observers have warned that Turkey is planning to annex northern Syria. The call for a Turkish mandate for Idlib may be a part of a Turkish plan to expand in the northern governorate, similar to what we saw before in the area of Afrin.