Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Russia Gives Turkey a One-month Window to Resolve Idlib Conflict

Russia Gives Turkey a One-month Window to Resolve Idlib Conflict

Saturday, 4 August, 2018 - 10:00
Residents inspect a site damaged by an airstrike in Hafsarja, in the rebels stronghold of Idlib province, Syria May 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

Moscow gave Ankara until the Russian-Turkish-French-German summit scheduled for September 7 to settle the Syrian Idlib conflict, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

In turn, Ankara pressed opposition factions in northern Syria to unite and form a National Front for Liberation (FNL), which is set out to include about 70,000 fighters according to informed estimates.

Forming such a front is a part of a plan to present a deadline for the Tahrir al-Sham, which includes factions from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra Front), to dissolve itself so that Syrian rebels would join within the new bloc, find consent and “create a mechanism" for foreign fighters to “exit.”

The National Front for Liberation is a Syrian rebel coalition identifying as part of the Free Syrian Army fighting in the Syrian Civil War. Formed by 11 rebel factions in northwestern Syria in May, the coalition receives major support from Turkey.

The race for swaying Idlib plays out on a field with two possible scenarios, either diplomatic settlement or escalation. That goes without saying that the escalation bares unknown containment prospects.

Damascus wants to benefit from a military momentum it gained after taking over control of Ghouta, the countryside of Homs and southern Syria, and shift it to take back the north.

Although regime forces continued pressing for military action in Idlib, going as far as bombing opposition positions, they remain cautious in approaching positions within the range of Turkish observation posts.

Ankara has deployed 12 fortified control points, but has presented a plan to resolve the Syrian North.

Pouring gas on an already lit fire, Syrian Kurds are planning to push for an attack on Afrin, a north Syrian city under Turkish-backed forces’ control, in conjunction with Damascus’ planned attack on Idlib.

As for the Iran-Israel dispute on Syria, a senior military official in Tel Aviv refuted Russia's claim that Iran had withdrawn its troops 85 kilometers away from the disengagement border in the occupied Golan Heights.

He said that these forces are located in the vicinity of Damascus and are currently 40 kilometers away from the separation line in the Golan.

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