The First Move after the Deal: Turkey Deploys Special Forces to Idlib Governorate

Turkish special forces prior to moving towards Idlib from the province of Tunceli – September 22, 2018 (Anadolu Agency)

Turkish special forces prior to moving towards Idlib from the province of Tunceli – September 22, 2018 (Anadolu Agency)


Turkey has sent special forces to Idlib governorate as to enhance the supervision points, in a first move after the deal that provided for the establishment of a buffer zone between the areas controlled by the Syrian regime and those held by the opposition.

The Turkish website “Haberler” has today, Saturday (September 22), reported that a Commandos regiment has been deployed by the Turkish army from the Turkish province of Tunceli to Idlib governorate to enhance the supervision points spreading in the governorate under the “de-escalation” agreement.

The website said that deploying the forces is undertaken according to the recent deal which provides for sending additional forces to the governorate.

Before they headed towards Idlib, a ceremony in celebration of the forces was held at the Turkish province, according to the website which reported that it was attended by the head of the Eighth Legion, Osman Erbaş, who greeted the soldiers before the they started moving to the Syrian governorate.

This move is the first of its kind following the Turkish-Russian deal, which posed a solution to Idlib’s situation, providing for the establishment of a demilitarized buffer zone and the surrendering of medium and heavy weaponry by the governorate’s active factions.

The buffer zone to be supervised by both Turkey and Russia, will be of 15 to 20 kilometers width.

In a press conference on September 18, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu declared that Turkish and Russian drones will coordinate patrols at the buffer zone in Idlib governorate.

“The moderate opposition will stay in its place, a thing of much importance. A ceasefire will be conducted, the area will not be attacked, and accordingly there would not be provocations against other areas,” he said.

According to the Turkish minister, only the “terrorist groups” will be expelled, and the area will be evacuated of heavy arsenal, including the likes of tanks and rocket launchers. However, the light weapons will still be held by a few of the forces of the moderate opposition.

He pointed out that Turkey must deploy additional forces to the 12 supervision points, spreading in the governorate’s surrounding.

According to the deal, the two highways “M4” and “M5,” passing through Idlib, will be reopened towards the end of 2018, as to energize the commercial wheel in the area; the roads are Damascus-Aleppo and the Lattakia-Aleppo.

Early in September, Turkey mobilized commandos to the supervision point at the city of Murak, northern rural Aleppo.

Since the beginning of 2018, Turkey established 12 supervision points in Idlib governorate under the “de-escalation” agreement.

In terms of spread, the Turkish army focused on choosing “strategic” areas to position the supervision post, depending on their proximity to the Assad’s forces and their Russian allies’ positions and the geography forming the area, relating to height and the military landscape they overlook.

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