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Turkey's Dangerous Games Causing Idlib Catastrophe

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Message Firas Samuri

Besides, the first Islamic private military contractor (PMC), called Malhama Tactical, has intensified its activity, which foremost consists of training of jihadists from different groups located on the HTS-held territory. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham itself funds the training. Mercenaries are in charge of forming militants, from machine gunners to snipers.

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Islamic PMC Malhama Tactical

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Allegedly one of the PMC chiefs

At the same time, the Malhama Tactical leadership has been caught using crowdfunding through social networks and in support of jihadists. To get further on Malhama Tactical activity, read the article at Foreign Policy.

And what is Turkey's role?

It would be nonsense to say that Ankara has no accurate information to implement the agreements on Idlib for some groups remain under Turkey's control.

Ankara is still active in the northern part of Syria, where it conducts surveillance and aerial survey by drones above the Idlib province.

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Turkish drone, allegedly Bayraktar TB2, 2/19/19

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Turkish drone over Idlib province, 1/22/19

Turkey has its strategy on the situation in the de-escalation zone of Idlib, and it hardly complies with the Memorandum.

Former U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State Brett McGurk said Ankara was supporting many opposition groups and creating friendly conditions for them. He considered the province of Idlib as a zone of Turkey's influence where groups affiliated with al-Qaida prevail. According to McGurk, all the guarding points on the border are controlled by al-Qaida, which is a serious aggravating issue in the settlement process in Idlib.

Is there a possibility of a military operation in Idlib?

Turkey is supposed to respect the Sochi agreement but it can't due to the largest part of Idlib being held by HTS. The scenario of bargaining, like it was in the case of the Afrin deal, may be advantageous for Ankara. In exchange of an operation against Kurds of Rojava, Turkey is ready to accept not interfering with the SAA units while it will clean up Idlib.

The possible scenario is a joint operation, during which pro-Turkish groups would move from the north and the border while Syrian-Iranian troops would start from the positions alongside the de-escalation zone.

In any case, Turkey is fully responsible for undermining the joint Memorandum. Moreover, the current situation demonstrates Turkey's negligence to guarantee the withdrawal of heavy weapons and radical jihadist groups from Idlib. And while the Turkish leader is turning a blind eye to what is going on in the province of Idlib things are getting only worse.

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