WASHINGTON – During an online meeting of the Atlantic Council Foundation, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey stated that the U.S. would like to see Turkey “put pressure” on extremist groups in Idlib. “We hope to see the Turks continue to put pressure on terrorist organizations there, the strongest of which is the Levant Liberation Committee (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, HTS),” he said.
“There were some clashes because of the pressure on them,” said Jeffery, referring to the recent exchanges of fire between HTS and Turkish soldiers over the joint patrols with Russia. “We hope to see a continuation of this.”
Russia, however, would ultimately like to see Turkey leave Syria. In a statement issued by the Russian Ministry of Affairs, spokesperson Maria Zakharova stressed the need to fight terrorists in Syria but called for departure of Turkish troops.
“We are concerned about the continuing waves of tension in areas along the Syrian–Turkish border currently under Ankara’s control, and Syrian territory must eventually return to Damascus’s control,” said Zakharova, elaborating that stability and security can only be reestablished “.
“We are convinced that establishing stability and security in the Syrian-Turkish border area and the country in general can only be achieved on basis of revival of its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” Zakharova said.
Turkey currently has nearly 3,000 military vehicles and tens of thousands of soldiers in Idlib and Aleppo governorates. It also maintains a military presence in pockets centered on the northern cities of Tel Abyad and Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn).