ISTANBUL: Disagreement between Turkey and Russia over how to tackle the Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib seems to have deferred a looming regime offensive on the province, analysts say. Russia and Turkey are on opposite sides of the conflict, but key global allies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Russian and Iranian leaders Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on September 7 to discuss Syria, just as a major assault by Russia-backed regime forces on Idlib appeared imminent.
But discord at the summit between Erdogan and Putin, in a rare scene captured on camera, may have prompted Russia to postpone the Idlib strike so as not to provoke Ankara, which is fiercely opposed to a military option.
"I believe an offensive, if there will be one, will not come before several weeks," a senior Turkish official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Turkey, which backs rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, co-sponsors -- with regime allies Russia and Iran -- the so-called Astana talks launched in January 2017 in the quest for a lasting ceasefire.
To date, the dialogue has resulted in the creation of four pre-ceasefire "de-escalation zones" in Syria, including in Idlib.