Erdogan hosts leaders of Russia & Iran as he pushes for border ‘safe zone’ in Idlib

Ankara hosts a trilateral meeting on Monday where President Erdogan is expected to parley with his Russian and Iranian counterparts for a buffer zone along the border to diminish a possible inflow of refugees from Idlib province.

Idlib, which is located in the northwestern part of Syria, is one of two large chunks of the country not yet controlled by Damascus. Some of the rebel groups based there are backed by Turkey, but there is also a strong presence of jihadists, over whom Ankara has little leverage. Last September President Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed to convince Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani to put pressure on Damascus and prevent any attempts to capture the province to avoid civilian casualties. The hope was that Turkey could use its sway on the rebels to secure a lasting ceasefire, but this never happened. Attacks continued on Syrian government positions and villages under its control and so did attempts to bomb the Russian air base in neighboring Latakia with drones.

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