Turkey withdraws from positions in Syria’s Idlib

The Turkish Armed Forces have been withdrawing from important positions near the city of Saraqib, a key gateway to the province of Idlib, according to al-Masdar news.   

On Nov. 17, al-Monitor reported that Russia and the Syrian army were stepping up attacks in Idlib, despite a ceasefire agreed in March between Russia and Turkey.

Al-Masdar, considered to be favourable towards the Syrian regime, also reported that the withdrawal of Turkish forces to “consolidate their troops in the remaining militant-held regions of the country” was seen as a victory by the Syrian army.

Map showing Saraqib to the East of Idlib, a gateway along the main road in the area.
Map showing Saraqib to the East of Idlib, a gateway along the main road in the area.

A source in Aleppo told al-Masdar that Turkey reaching an agreement with Russia to withdraw from the observation posts was “seen in Damascus as a victory for their forces, especially after Ankara previously claimed they would not abandon these posts under any circumstances.”

Saraqib had been a flashpoint of fighting between Turkey-backed opposition forces and the Syrian government in February, with the Syrian government taking the city, then the opposition recapturing it.

At the same time as withdrawing its forces from observation posts in Syrian government-held territory, Turkey has also reinforced its troops in Idlib, sending more than 50 armoured vehicles into the province in the past week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Syrian government is getting closer to the last opposition stronghold of Idlib, as it seeks to retain control of all of Syria.