FSA commander: "We exclude the possibility of Turkey and Russia launching military operation in Idlib"
Idlib - SMART
On Thursday, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander said that they exclude the possibility of Turkey and Russia launching a military operation against the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the Idlib governorate, Northern Syria.
The FSA statement followed discussions between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday. During the talks, Erdogan said that Turkey and Russia need to fight terrorist organization in Idlib.
The FSA commander Abdul Salam Abdul Razzaq reported to SMART that the statements of Erdogan and Putin are reassuring messages that the two countries would not launch a military operation against the HTS in the area.
Abdul Razzaq added, "I think there other tactical ways to deal with the HTS in Idlib, maybe a good strategic choice would be to comprehend the current situation and manage it for minimum damage (…) we exclude the possibilities of the two countries launching a military operation against the HTS."
Regarding a question about the possibility of the HTS joining the National Army or the National Liberation Front of the FSA, Abdul Razzaq answered, "All is possible, nothing is clear yet (…) HTS would do anything to keep its interests."
On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova that violations against the de-escalation and the demilitarization agreement have increased after the al-Nusra Front, referring to the HTS, gained control of most of Idlib.
The Idlib governorate is included in the de-escalation agreement, which was concluded in the Astana Conference between the guarantors Turkey, Russia and Iran, and the demilitarization agreement, which was concluded between Russia and Turkey on Sept. 17, 2018.
The HTS gained control of areas in Idlib, western Aleppo, and northern Hama after clashes with the FSA. The clashes between the HTS and the FSA killed and injured dozens of militants and civilians.