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Turkey, HTS Hold Talks to Contain Tension

Turkey, HTS Hold Talks to Contain Tension

Tuesday, 28 April, 2020 - 08:30
A general view shows a damaged building in the western Damascus suburbs, Syria in this handout released by SANA on April 27, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Talks are ongoing between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Turkey to end the tension in the wake of Turkish forces’ intervention to disperse a protest near Nayrab on Sunday.

This weekend, the region witnessed the first military confrontation between Turkish forces and HTS militants.

As retaliation for Turkish forces opening fire on HTS militants on Sunday — killing four protesters participating in Al-Karama sit-in — the militant group targeted a Turkish armored vehicle with a missile in Al-Nayrab.

On Sunday morning, Turkish forces destroyed tents in Al-Karama and reportedly fired tear gas and live rounds to open the road for the passage of four Russian cars, enabling joint patrols with Russian forces on the M4 highway.

But the protesters retaliated by throwing stones at the Turkish troops.

Turkey’s drones also targeted HTS positions for the first time on Sunday, near the village of Al-Nayrab, hinting at a possible large-scale operation in the near future. The attack killed two members of the HTS and injured three others.

Sources revealed that talks were held on Sunday to contain the tension after the armed clash. Representatives from Sham Legion and other pro-Turkey factions took part in the talks.

HTS along with Idlib residents protest against the Russian presence and the signed deals between Turkey and Russian on Idlib. The most recent is the March 5 agreement signed in Moscow on a ceasefire, the establishment of a safe corridor 6 km along the M4 road in Idlib, and launching Turkish-Russian patrols.

Notably, these joint patrols commenced on March 15 but the Turkish and Russian forces had to cut short 5 patrols due to protests along the road.

Furthermore, Russian and Turkish forces conducted on Monday morning a new joint patrol in western countryside of Ain al-Arab (Kobani). Russian-Turkish armored vehicles set off from the village of Ashma and roamed villages and towns in the western countryside of Kobani, with two Russian helicopters flying over the area at low altitude.

On April 16, Syrian Observatory sources confirmed that the Russian and Turkish forces have conducted a new joint patrol in the eastern countryside of Ain Al-Arab (Kobani). This falls under Sochi Agreement signed on Oct. 22 regarding the east of Euphrates.

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