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Hard times for Turkey in Idlib: militias, until now an ally, become a problem. Ankara is concerned about rebel threats to joint patrols with Russia on the M4, but cannot act to not lose their support
The truce in Syria has become a cause of great problems for Turkey. Especially threats from local militias, so far supported by Ankara, to attack joint patrols with Russia along the M4 in Idlib. Forcing the hand would mean losing their support against Damascus and the regular army (SAA) in the province and creating a new enemy, who knows the territory very well and moreover is in the border area. On the other, even parallel diplomacy does not seem to be paying off. The local population continues to organize blocks on the highway and the rebels do not show signs of taking a step back. The militias themselves, however, are in difficulty. They know they cannot lose their partnership with the neighboring country if they hope to resist the Assad regime. As a result, they take time waiting for something to unlock the stall.
The only solution is to let Russia act in northern Syria. Damascus, however, takes advantage of the situation to keep the stalemate and tie the hands to Turkey
So far, therefore, the best weapon for Turkey in Syria is Russia. Moscow supports Damascus and SAA operations in Idlib. It has no ties to the militias, and bomb them on a daily basis. As a result, Ankara is very likely to step aside, waiting for Federation fighters to clear the field along the buffer zone. In this case, it cannot be accused of having discharged the jihadists. The Assad regime, however, has sensed the situation and is running for cover. It is no coincidence that the army continues to concentrate its efforts to the south, between Hama and Idlib, and to the east, on the border with Aleppo, not hitting any targets on the M4 except in the southern quadrant. The maneuvers, in fact, targeted the area of Mount Zawiya but not beyond. The goal is to keep the stalemate while preventing Turkey from reactivating the Spring Shield operation.