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The battle for Idlib will make or break Russia’s relations with Turkey

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Since the outset of the Syrian revolution in 2011, Russia has been the staunchest backer of the Assad regime in Damascus. Turkey, meanwhile, has maintained its position as the closest friend and supporter of the rebel groups in Syria. Ironically, both countries have succeeded in maintaining their friendship, regardless of their divergent standpoints vis-à-vis the Syrian conflict.

Recently, Moscow and Ankara have been at loggerheads once again. In the wake of the killing of Turkish soldiers in Syria’s north-west province of Idlib, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “Either Russia reins-in the regime’s bombings in Idlib or our patience is running out and we will do what is necessary from now on.”

Ankara said that it will use military power to drive back the Syrian forces unless they withdraw by the end of February. Erdogan added that Turkey will strike government forces anywhere in Syria if another Turkish soldier is hurt.

On 29 January, the Turkish leader slammed Russia for the first time, accusing its leadership of “not being sincere to the Astana and Sochi agreements.” More interestingly, when he was asked about the Astana talks, he replied, “There is no Astana process any more.”

READ: Russia air strikes shut down 2 hospitals in Aleppo

In 2017, both countries embarked on diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict through a series of peace talks in Astana and Sochi that led to the de-escalation agreement for Idlib. However, the developments on the battlefield have turned the de-escalation zones into places of brutally escalating standoffs.

Once again, Turkey is disappointed with its allies in NATO. They’ve shown a distinct lack of........

© Middle East Monitor