The Turks «warm up» Idlib to strengthen its presence and postpone the return of the region of Syria
The Syrian province of Idlib continues to be one of the most problematic regions in the country and poses a threat to the lives of the population living there. The main role in the settlement of the conflict in this zone is given to the Turkish army, which should ensure control over the observance of the cessation of hostilities in the demilitarized zone and the withdrawal of armed groups from there.
Nevertheless, tensions in the region, on the contrary, are growing, which is primarily due to the destructive influence of Turkish intelligence services on controlled militants, a source in the Syrian Arab army (SAA) told the Federal News Agency (FAN).
According to the Syrian counterintelligence, in the province of Idlib recorded an increase in contradictions among the gangs. In April, there were up to ten major clashes of militants «Hayat Tahrir al-sham» with other competing groups, including «Ahrar al-sham», «Islamic party of Turkestan» (activity is prohibited in Russia), «Filak al-sham». It is noted that in the armed clashes killed up to 80 militants, including 10 influential warlords on both sides. It is possible that the contradictions between the groups in the de-escalation zone are artificially provoked by Ankara, which has reduced the financing of local groups. In addition, the Turkish special services are intensifying differences by using controlled members of the underground cells of the «Islamic state»1 (banned in Russia) to eliminate the leaders of the formations, which, according to the Turks, I consider myself «too independent».
On 21 April, the headquarters of Jabhat Fatah al-sham 1 (activities prohibited in the Russian Federation) were destroyed in Nayrab, a few kilometres South-East of Idlib, as a result of the detonation of an improvised explosive device.
Just a few days later, in the same area, there was a clash between the militants «Jaysh Khalid Ibn al-Walid» (part of the «Islamic state») and «Tahrir al-sham», which was attended by up to 300 radicals. Both groups suffered significant losses. Perhaps Turkey’s multifaceted contacts could have a positive impact on the situation in the demilitarized zone. However, it seems that the return of the problem region under the control of Damascus is not planned by Ankara.
Doctor of military Sciences Anatoly Matviychuk in a comment for the FAN said that the Turks do maintain ties with a large number of gangs based in the Idlib zone, including the warring among themselves. However, they use it not with the aim of establishing the situation in the region, but on the contrary — in order to further destabilization.
«Ankara has its own political and economic interests in the North-West of the SAR, and there it has a lot of allied armed anti-government groups — more or less close. Among the first, first of all, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which Turkey generously equips and which also provides political support within the framework of the conflict. The FSA and groups seem to oppose radical Islamists from al-Nusra and the remnants of ISIS, CLAIMING their alleged rights in the territory in Idlib, but a clear division of the spheres of influence of the militants during the years of the crisis there has not been formed,» the expert explained. Of course, all these areas are part of a sovereign Syria, but each of the local band groups — less or more radical — has its own ambitions. Turkey is playing its game, encouraging the aspirations of both and hoping to delay as much as possible the return of the border Idlib in the conduct of official Damascus.
«The Central leadership of the SAR has repeatedly reminded that this region, like all the others, should in any case return to the control of the legitimate government following the conflict. Ankara, which initially joined us Syrian campaign to overthrow legitimate President Bashar al-Assad, still does not want this. In order to prevent this, the Turks use their influence on local gangs, use the most destabilizing elements in the province, instigates militants against each other in the future to create a controlled chaos and expand the zone of control for their army, which seems to be engaged in only monitoring the situation in Idlib,» Anatoly Matviychuk summed up.