Turkey has been saying that they will enter Idlib to assist the Iranians and Russians in maintaining the de-escalation zones as they agreed at in the most recent Astana talks last month. As of this morning, they entered into Syrian territory after an agreement took place between HTS leadership and Turkish authorities.
HTS’s position regarding a possible incursion is that Turkish forces would be allowed to do so but only under certain conditions. HTS border patrols have been beefed up and small skirmishes have taken place between HTS and Turkish forces. Large numbers of HTS troops backed by heavy weapons poured into border areas in recent days to act as a deterrent.
This morning a convoy of Turkish vehicles enter Syrian territory accompanied by and HTS escort giving further credence to the rumor that a deal had been reached. The Turkish convoy escorted the delegation to Dar Izza and are said to be taking over strategic points looking over PKK territory. It is unclear what further forces may or may not be arriving.
The FSA is beginning an operation in Idlib with Russian backing according to a statement made yesterday by Turkish President Erdogan. This statement set off a firestorm of criticism from across the border. Many were shocked that there were groups within the FSA ranks that would agree to work with Russian forces who are publicly implicated in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
Most analysts feel that any fighting that would take place between HTS and Turkey would be a huge disaster for both sides. While HTS does not have either the manpower or firepower to stand up to the Turkish military, they made it clear that entering their territory aggressively will come at a cost for whoever tries. Meanwhile, Ankara would have difficulty convincing it’s citizens that a guerrilla campaign mounted by HTS, whom has never shown hostility to Turkey, was worth it to fight while their Kurdish arch-enemies (PKK) were allowed to sit and watch.