United States trying Turkey's patience - Erdogan

Erika Holt
January 12, 2018

If Abu al-Duhur falls, the resistance-controlled Idlib province shall be cut in half, and its eastern more arid part could soon be fully captured by al-Assad's supporters, while its western half could end up under an increasingly severe siege.

After Syrian troops retook more than 100 towns and villages, according to the United Kingdom -based, pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, they reached the gates of the massive Abu Zuhour air base that was lost in 2015 after a three-year rebel siege ended in a massacre of Syrian soldiers, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The Hezbollah-run news service said the army and its allies were repelling a "fierce assault" by the Nusra Front, formerly ISIS affiliate in the Syrian war, and groups linked to it.

Erdogan spoke to Putin on the phone, they said. For whatever reason - some argue Turkey never meant to confront HTS and is more interested in going after US-backed Syrian Kurds in neighboring Afrin - it did not work. When anti-government protests erupted into a mostly Arab Sunni Muslim insurgency against the state, Kurds initially avoided major clashes with either the Syrian army or rebels, but occasionally fought alongside and against both. In other words, the perpetrators of the drone attacks were not local rebels under Turkey's supervision.

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Turkey has been fiercely opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his country's six-year-old civil war but has recently been working with his allies Russian Federation and Iran for a political resolution to the conflict.

The Turkish government said the Idlib offensive was endangering the effort to reach a resolution of the conflict and accused the Syrian government of using the pretext of fighting militants to wage a wide scale attack. According to a Turkish diplomatic source, the ministry "voiced its reaction and concerns in this regard, also asking them to convey the information to the [Syrian] regime in order to make it stop such actions".

Many Syrians living in rebel-held areas see Turkey's military intervention as a bulwark against a relentless bombing campaign by Syrian and Russian air forces they blame for killing and injuring hundreds of civilians in urban areas in recent months, away from the frontlines.

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