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Complexities growing over Idlib

Sep 01,2018 - Last updated at Sep 01,2018

UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura is worried that a war over Idlib in Syria could be catastrophic. There are about 2.9 million people living in Idlib province and there are increasing fears that Damascus, aided and abetted by its allies Russia and Iran, is determined to wage a war there after having "liberated" all other regions in the country over the past few months. 

De Mistura is complicating the military scene in Idlib by also saying that there are about 10,000 "terrorists" in the area belonging to Al Nusra Front or Al Qaeda. How did the UN envoy come to this figure no one knows but it would suretly help give the Syrian army an added excuse to wage the so-called "last battle" in Syria. 

What could spoil all these plans is of course Turkey whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vouched to intervene militarily should Damascus wage a war for the control of the city. Ankara is no small power and what it usually says goes. Idlib is too close to Turkey and an all out war on the area would trigger a huge exodus of refugees and of course they will have nowhere to go except Turkey. 

Turkey is already housing millions of Syrian refugees and cannot afford more of them in its territory. But that is not all, as far as Ankara is concerned. Turkey is also thinking of its own strategic interests in the region. President Erdogan has already sent notices, across the area and beyond, that his country would not tolerate the fall of territories too close to its borders  to "enemies" of Turkey. 

Against its backdrop, would the imminent fighting over Idlib be the key for an end to the Syrian conflict or a just another beginning to a bigger regional conflict. Stakeholders including Russia must be weary of any major military activities in and around Idlib for fear that they may undermine altogether the strategic gains it made in Syria over the past few years.

All sides must therefore calculate very carefully their next moves in Syria before they unleash another major confrontation in the region that may take the entire area into an even more complex regional conflict.

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