The Syrian government and the countries that support it are to blame if Idlib becomes “terrorist nest”, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlet Cavusoglu said on January 14. The foreign minister blaimed the Syrian government and its allies for moving in terrorists from places as far as Daraa in the south.
He stressed that Turkey is doing what is required to maintain peace and prevent violations in the Idlib de-escalation zone. He even claimed that the Idlib deal reached between Turkey and Russia last September has been “successfully” implemented despite difficult conditions.
Cavusolgu statment came amid a recent series of concerning developments in the Idlib de-escalation zone during which Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) seized northwestern Hama and western Aleppo from Turkish-backed groups and forced them to accept Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s Salvation Government as the authority in their areas. Furthermore, a notable part of members of the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation are currently fleeing to the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin, which is located outside of the Idlib de-escalation zone.
Turkey and its opposition to a military operation to eliminate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib is the main reason behind the possibility of this expansion. However, Ankara prefers to blame Damacus and its allies for own actions in support of the terrorists in Idlib.