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Turkey Benefits from ‘Fragile Ceasefire’ to Enhance Positions in Syria

Turkey Benefits from ‘Fragile Ceasefire’ to Enhance Positions in Syria

Monday, 2 September, 2019 - 06:45
A convoy of Turkish military vehicles passes through the town of Saraqeb in the northwestern province of Idlib reportedly heading toward the town of Khan Sheikhun in the southern countryside of the province on August 19, 2019. Omar Haj Kadour, AFP
Ankara - Moscow - London - Saeed Abdelrazek and Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey on Sunday took advantage of a “fragile ceasefire” to enhance its observation posts in northwest Syria’s de-escalation zone.

A new Turkish military convoy entered Idlib province on Sunday, the second such column to cross into Syria via the Kafr Losen Crossing.

A Turkish military unit, including two armored vehicles carrying 25 Turkish soldiers each, was also seen on the Damascus-Aleppo highway on a surveillance mission. Some unit personnel headed towards Idlib, along with members of the Free Syrian Army while others deployed near al-Kamari village, south of Aleppo.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Sunday that “relative calm” prevailed over Idlib.

But the Observatory head did report some “skirmishes” in the region, where regime forces have been battling fighters of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) alliance and allied opposition groups.

Last week, Moscow announced a ceasefire in the Idlib de-escalation zone and urged armed groups in the region to join the ceasefire in the areas under their control.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Saturday that he was not satisfied with the current state of developments in the province.

He has agreed in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on additional measures for Idlib.

On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about the outcome of last Tuesday’s talks between Putin and his Turkish counterpart.

“Erdogan said that Turkey seeks to ensure its security interests there. President Putin confirmed that we recognize these interests as absolutely legal and support achieving an agreement, which would primarily take into account the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Lavrov told "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin" program on Russia’s Channel One.

He said Moscow believes that Turkey’s interests in ensuring security and therefore its plans to set up a zone under its control in northeast Syria are absolutely legitimate.

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