Turkey and its allied forces are now not in a comfortable position is Syrian town of Idlib after Russian-backed Syrian forces of Bashar al Assad took control of Saraqib in eastern Idlib countryside this week, according to Timur Göksel, former spokesman for the UN Peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Turkey following the successful offensive by Assad forces is now working to bolster Idlib outposts particularly building four new observation posts in Saraqib, said journalist Engin Baş.
Confirming the reports, Göksel said that Turkish military vows to build three fortified checkpoints between Idlib and Saraqib in an attempt to stop Syrian offensive and expansion. But the plans couldn’t be materialized as Syrian forces backed by Russians made no mistake to taken control of the strategic town of Saraqib on Thursday. The key town is recently hit by a fresh wave of Syrian refuges as nearly 1 million people in Idlib have been cornered to Turkish border to escape the collateral between Assad’s regime and Jihadi groups.
“Turkey’s access to Idlib will be much more difficult and [Turkey] will be stuck with the potential refugee crisis without having access to Idlib,” Göksel told Ahval, an online Turkish news site. He said that Turkey will now count on the Syrian opposition groups it backed and will wait to see if they can stay in fight or will scatter in the long fight.
“I think the Turkish government is now in an embarrassing situation with its allies in Idlib [in] that they are facing the imminent fall of the city of Idlib,” Göksel said.
“This may also explain why Turkey decided to take the big risk of sending a major reinforcement force to Saraqib,” he added.
Idlib serves as a dwelling of more than 3 million with a large chunk of internally displaced Syrians that were pushed to the Turkish borders in various episodes of fighting. Turkey already has 12 observation posts in Idlib that were developed after a 2018 agreement with Russia as a part of establishing a buffer zone in the province to secure the last ani-Assad rebel hold in the region. Syrian regime had last year mandated the new Idlib offensive against the groups like Free Syrian Army and others maintaining that Ankara had not fulfilled their commitments to control the groups over which they had great leverage. Some 7 Turkish soldiers and a civilian were killed as they come under the heavy shelling of Syrian forces that targeted a Turkish military convoy.
Turkey already a home to 3.6m Syrian Refugees has vowed to retaliated and threatened to initiate a counter-military offensive against Syrian forces if they do not go back to previous positions agreed upon in ceasefire agreement mediated by Russia. Turkish future course of action will depend on Putin’s next move, said Göksel.
“Turkey has to decide whether it can afford a more direct confrontation with Russia, because it’s obvious that the Russians are very much supportive of the Assad regime in Idlib and many people in the region agree that the regime cannot take action against Turkey without the Russian consent,” he added.
Turkey under Erdoğan had faced criticism for supplying Jihadists with weapons, training and monetary support. “Turkey wants to keep these armed jihadist militants in Idlib in order to use them as Turkish proxy forces when needed,” Göksel explained.