Turkey Gears Up for ‘Risky’ Syria Mission With Russia and Iran


The Turkish army is amassing tanks and commandos ahead of a joint mission with Russia and Iran to monitor a ceasefire agreement and pacify a rebel stronghold in northwest Syria.

The military buildup has gained impetus since the three allies agreed to establish a combat-free zone in the Syrian province of Idlib — largely controlled by former al-Qaeda militants — and to monitor any violations by opposition groups or forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Solid steps will be taken in the coming days following discussions between the parties this week, Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told state-run TRT television on Thursday.

Turkish troops are expected to be deployed inside Idlib with Russians stationed around the city, and the collaboration symbolizes the closer ties between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It also represents a shift in Turkey’s attitude to Syrian leader Assad, analysts said. Turkey has long opposed any political transition under him, but Russia’s intervention in Syria’s civil war shored up the president after years of U.S. insistence that he must go.

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