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Putin, Erdogan meet to discuss next moves on battle for Idlib

Putin, Erdogan meet to discuss next moves on battle for Idlib

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan will hold a meeting in Sochi on Monday for discussing the future of Idlib, which is the last major rebel bastion, BBC reported.

Turkish leader is struggling to prevent an onslaught by pro-Damascus forces on the rebel-held Idlib province, but its moves may have also escalated the potential dangers of the conflict. So far, the impending offensive on Idlib province, touted for weeks by Damascus and its Russian and Iranian backers, appears to be on hold as a result of Turkish diplomatic agitation and military manoeuvres.

Putin and Erdogan meeting should detail the fate of Idlib, the battle for this rebel bastion will become the last chapter of the long, bloody war. Turkey has transferred arms and ammunition to its Free Syria Army (FSA) rebel allies, pro-Ankara newspapers reported, though some experts say the distribution of weapons won’t affect the outcome of any conflict.

Syrian forces aided by Russian air power could easily overrun the outposts. But Turkey’s moves have upped the geopolitical cost of any attempt to take Idlib by the pro-Assad camp that includes Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, as well as Iraqi Shia militias backed by Tehran.

Turkey remains the primary patron of the Syrian opposition and the host to 3.5 million displaced Syrians, has vehemently opposed the regime offensive to retake Idlib. The US and Europe have urged a political solution over Idlib and warned against the military campaign. US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley repeated warnings that any use of chemical weapons by the regime would trigger a response by Washington.