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NDF commander died of his wounds
 

Test7

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Tensions between Turkey and Russia rise in Idlib following failed talks


Turkish officials are preparing for the worst case scenario as talks in Ankara made clear that Moscow doesn't want a new deal

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Smoke billows from the villages of Jabal al-Zawiya region in the northwest province of Idlib following shelling by pro-Syrian government forces on 15 September 2020 (AFP)


By Ragip Soylu in Ankara Published date: 25 September 2020


After years of air strikes, clashes, blood and agony, Syria’s last opposition-held province, Idlib, has been enjoying some relative peace for the last six months.

For the first time, activists and civilians were not living under the constant fear of attacks by the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies.

But the situation changed last week during high-level diplomatic talks in Ankara between Russian and Turkish officials.

That same day, Russian warplanes bombarded opposition positions on the outskirts of Idlib, as busloads of civilians ferried by the Assad government near Turkish military observation stations reportedly tried to break past the Turkish military barricades.

A Turkish source with knowledge of the situation told Middle East Eye that talks between Turkish and Russian officials failed because “the Russian bear” wouldn’t agree to anything reasonable. “They won’t listen,” the source said.

Russian officials have repeated the same talking point in numerous meetings, pointing to Turkey's responsibility under its commitments in the Sochi deal to get rid of some groups in the Idlib province, such as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

No one would say it out loud in Ankara, but those closely following the Syria dossier in the Turkish security establishment know that Russia provoked the latest round of clashes in Idlib in March, which eventually caused the death of more than 60 Turkish soldiers and the loss of a big chunk of territory near the strategic M5 highway.


The trust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had in his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was lost. Since then, Turkey has focused on not repeating the same mistake.

Idlib is of paramount important to the Turkish leadership because it believes it cannot afford another Syrian refugee crisis in the middle of a dire economic situation, with xenophobic resentment against Syrians on the rise in Turkey.

Ankara has made numerous deployments in Idlib by sending special forces, armoured vehicles including tanks, and air defence systems. It also created a unified war room with opposition armed groups in the city of Hatay to quickly respond to any attack that could come from Assad forces.

“Turkey is training hundreds of Syrians in Idlib against a possible Syrian regime-led offensive,” one Syria expert told MEE. “Turkey has now established an intensive control in Idlib. Regime forces wouldn’t be able to move like they did in March."


One of the fundamental steps that the Turkish military has taken is deploying air defence systems. “Assad cannot send his air assets anymore,” the expert said. “So if you see an air operation, now you know that they are definitely Russians.”

During the meetings in Ankara last week, Turkish officials tried to explain to their Russian counterparts that Turkey now has more control in Idlib and HTS is no longer the threat it used to be. “We are now on the ground and HTS cannot move freely,” one Turkish official said.

“They want us to extract HTS and others from Idlib. Where are we going to send them? Many locals also see them as heroes against the regime.”

Patrols under fire
In recent months, Turkish and Russian military patrols on the strategic M4 highway came under fire by a new and opaque militant group called Khattab al-Shishani Battalions. The attacks have angered Russia, leading it to ask Turkey to cede the territory below the M4 to Assad.

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov said last weekend that joint patrols have been suspended due to security reasons, ambiguously adding that the Syrian government had no need to conduct any operations in Idlib.

“Maybe they want us to believe that Assad won’t attack any time soon,” the Turkish official said. “But we don’t trust it.”

Even though the general inclination among Syria experts is that a Russian and Syrian government attack is imminent, there are others who disagree. Some officials in Ankara believe Russia would be careful in its dealings in Idlib because it needs Turkey as a counterpart in Libya.


'The Russians were surprised at our resistance in March against their offensive. They won’t tell us but we know what they want. They want us to be gone from Syria'

- Turkish official


Some experts think that Turkey could still satisfy Russian expectations and stop an upcoming war.

Suhail al-Ghazi, a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute, said that despite the anger against the attacks on joint patrols, Moscow also failed to honour the deal by not stopping the Syrian government's daily shelling.

“According to sources in HTS and the Free Syrian Army, Turkey will launch a security operation in the area surrounding the highway in Idlib to neutralise the threat by the Khatab al-Shishani Battalions and the other cells which attacked TSK (Turkish army) bases twice,” he said. "This operation, when/if it will succeed, will solve the problem with Russia and Russia won't have a pretext to launch a military operation in Idlib.”

Preparing for attack
Others say Russia had been using the same rhetoric before the clashes earlier this year, reiterating that the Syrian government doesn’t have any reason to conduct operations in Idlib.

“Russia may seem to be comparatively silent, however it is militarily ready for an operation. It could begin one at any moment,” said Levent Kemal, a regional analyst and veteran journalist.

“Tensions have increased since the talks in Ankara. Regime bombardments have become routine. I wouldn’t be surprised to see hostilities begin again in October in Jabal al-Zawiya, which is crucial for the defence of Idlib city.”

Turkish officials believe the rising number of coronavirus cases and the sanctions against the Syrian government could hinder any Russian attempt. Yet they also say the demands from their Russian counterparts won’t end anytime soon. They believe Moscow would find a new reason every time to push Ankara to do the impossible.

“They were surprised at our resistance in March against their offensive,” the official said. “They won’t tell us but we know what they want. They want us to be gone from Syria."

 

bsruzm

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"The US has transferred aid worth $400 million, mostly consisting of security equipment, to the YPG/PKK terrorist organization in Syria, local sources said on Saturday."

 

Kaptaan

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This is PPE and other medical gear to fight the coronovirus pandemic which should be treated as a humanitarian act and not political. Surely helping to tackle the virus is good thing for Turkey being next door. This virus has no borders or countries. Thus you should see this aid in that light.

Pakistan has been one of the few countries to entirely side with Azerbaijan in the conflict in Ngarno Karabak. The government of Pakistan led by PM Imran Khan has been consistently pro Turkey. PMIK has very close relations with President Erdogan. Indeed PMIK has pushed to have Turkish series be broadcast in Pakistan highlighting his pro Turkish bias. I am surprised that you would doubt Pakistan's posture just because of emergency aid to Syria.

By the way President Aliyev and the Azeri ambassador in Pakistan have openly thanked Pakistan for it's support. Contrary to this if you look at Indian media and cyberspace Indians have been busy trying to paint Azerbaijan as a aggressor and openly siding with Armenia.

In addition the far right Indian government is on course to of revisionism which includes erasing or disparaging the various Turkic Muslim dynasties which conquered South Asia and established rule over vast numbers of Hindus for nearly 500 years something that irks the Indians to this day.

You should not let one humanitarian flight raise doubts on Pakistan and Turkish alliance which has decades of history is runs deep.




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Bayraktar TB2

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This is PPE and other medical gear to fight the coronovirus pandemic which should be treated as a humanitarian act and not political. Surely helping to tackle the virus is good thing for Turkey being next door. This virus has no borders or countries. Thus you should see this aid in that light.

Pakistan has been one of the few countries to entirely side with Azerbaijan in the conflict in Ngarno Karabak. The government of Pakistan led by PM Imran Khan has been consistently pro Turkey. PMIK has very close relations with President Erdogan. Indeed PMIK has pushed to have Turkish series be broadcast in Pakistan highlighting his pro Turkish bias. I am surprised that you would doubt Pakistan's posture just because of emergency aid to Syria.

By the way President Aliyev and the Azeri ambassador in Pakistan have openly thanked Pakistan for it's support. Contrary to this if you look at Indian media and cyberspace Indians have been busy trying to paint Azerbaijan as a aggressor and openly siding with Armenia.

In addition the far right Indian government is on course to of revisionism which includes erasing or disparaging the various Turkic Muslim dynasties which conquered South Asia and established rule over vast numbers of Hindus for nearly 500 years something that irks the Indians to this day.

You should not let one humanitarian flight raise doubts on Pakistan and Turkish alliance which has decades of history is runs deep.




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Surely making this low key would be better no? U don't see UAE hanging banners of "brotherhood" and "Syrian Arab Republic" even and they are very close with the assad regime. Legitimizing the assad regime is not the way.
Surely you understand what I am saying.

And I'm still of the opinion of balancing the relations between Pakistan and India tho but won't get into details in this thread.
 

Nilgiri

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Might as well improve relations with India if this is done without consulting Turkey. Same thing.

Got banned one time at PDF for bringing up what Turkey actually trades with India all things said and done at end of the day w.r.t Pakistan. Hard truth to digest.

Whole bunch of story involving creation of this very forum, because Turks weren't allowed to say A B or C regd certain trolls there....and especially the situation in East Turkestan.

Pakistan "leadership" has a certain psyche... you must cross the t's and dot the i's and stick to the narrow...then you are best buddy dynamic to them....

But when their brave revolutionary PM has to give KL summit a skip (leaving Erdogan and Mahathir in the lurch) after all his big trumpeting promise to attend, then that must simply be "understood"....
 
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