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Tit For Tat: Turkey, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Reached Initial Agreement On Greater Idlib

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Tit For Tat: Turkey, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Reached Initial Agreement On Greater Idlib

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Turkey and al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) have reached an initial agreement on Greater Idlib, the Shaam Network reported on May 5.

The agreement was reached during a meeting held after the April 26 clashes on the Lattakia-Aleppo highway, known as the M4. Back then, HTS and other groups targeted Turkish forces that were trying to secure the highway. This attack provoked a limited Turkish military response.

Sources with the knowledge on the matter told the Shaam Network that the meeting was attended by Turkish officers and senior HTS commanders, including Abu Hassan 600 and Abu Hussein al-Urduni. The meeting was held in a camp of Turkish forces near the town of Arihah in southern Idlib.

“The leadership of Turkish forces in Idlib considered the practices of HTS to be provocative …  HTS was negotiating through intermediaries to secure commercial gains on the road [the M4] … As well as on frontlines with the regime, taking advantage of the protest,” the pro-opposition outlet quoted its sources as saying.

As a result of the meeting, HTS agreed to end the sit-in on the M4 highway in exchange for Turkey allowing it to open a crossing with government-held areas in western Aleppo.

The crossing was opened soon after near the town of Maaret Elnaasan. However, clashes with locals who rejected the step forced HTS to suspend work at the crossing for the time being.

HTS’ deal with Turkey highlights the terrorist group’s hypocrisy and greed. While the group blocked the M4 highway as a supposed stand against the “regime,” it was trying to open a crossing with the very same “regime.”

The dismissal of the protest camp on the M4 allowed Russian and Turkish forces to conduct longer patrols on the highway. Nevertheless, a long strip between Arihah and Lattakia is still unsecured. This may provoke yet another crisis between Turkey and HTS in the near future.

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