Turkey has proposed a new plan to Russia that could prevent a military escalation in the northern governorate of Idlib and stabilize the situation there, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on July 22.
As a part of the Turkish plan, militants in Idlib will reopen the Hama-Aleppo highway and hand over their heavy and medium weapons to Turkey. In return, Turkey will work to restore the public services in the governorate and will found a new “National Army.”
Asharq al-Awsat said that Turkey will held a meeting with the opposition factions in Idlib, including Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), in the upcoming weeks to inform them of the plan. According to the newspaper, the main goal of the plan is to prevent the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) from launching an offensive on the governorate, similar to what we saw in Damascus, Aleppo and most recently in Daraa.
While Turkey appears to be confident that its plan will succeed, many radical groups in Idlib led by HTS will likely reject the Turkish proposal. These groups may view the plan as attempt to strip them from their powers in favor of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups.