Three Turkish soldiers were killed Sept. 11 in a bomb attack in Idlib, the last stronghold of Turkish-backed and Islamist opposition in northwest Syria — and Turkey responded by hitting US-backed Kurdish groups in northeast Syria. It’s a war within a war.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan has been trying to stave off an all-out attack. Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, a massive strain on its economy.
Turkey “assumed that HTS’ suppression of other jihadis would fulfill its commitments to Russia to eliminate terrorist groups, yet HTS has reinforced its de facto emirate in Idlib, and dozens of radical groups such as Ansar al-Islam, Ansar al-Tawhid, Ansar al-Din, Ajnad al-Kavkaz and the Turkistan Islamic Movement have maintained their presence in the province.
Despite shedding its Al-Qaeda affiliation, HTS is still designated by the US, the UN Security Council and Turkey as a terrorist group.