On March 15, Syrian opposition supporters and activists intercepted a convoy of the Turkish military that attempted to open the M4 highway in Greater Idlib.
The Turkish convoy, which consisted of several battle tanks, armored vehicles and bulldozers, was tasked with opening the M4 to facilitate a joint Russian-Turkish patrol that was supposed to take place on the highway later.
Opposition protesters blocked the highway by deploying obstacles and even climbing Turkish vehicles. This forced the convoy to withdraw. However, the protesters went on to stone the vehicles of their allies.
Turkey’s failure to open the highway led to the cancellation of the pre-planned joint patrol. Russian and Turkish troops conducted a very limited patrol west of Saraqib city in southeast Idlib instead.
The reopening of the M4 highway, which links the coastal city of Lattakia with Aleppo city, is the keystone of the recent Russian Turkish agreement on Greater Idlib.
Turkey don’t appear to have any real influence over Greater Idlib militants, which have been receiving support from it for years now. The chances that the M4 will be reopened by peaceful measures are very low. Ankara’s failure to open the M4 will likely push Damascus and its allies towards another military operation in the region.