On March 22, the Turkish military begin working to establish two “observation posts” near the city of Jisr al-Shughur in the northwestern part of Syria’s Greater Idlib.
According to opposition activists, the pots will be established on the hilltops of Khattab and Msheirfeh, which overlook the M4 highway. The strategic highway, which links the coastal city of Lattakia with Aleppo city, also runs right through Jisr al-Shughur.
Earlier, opposition sources, including the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), reported that several Turkish military convoys have entered Greater Idlib.
Jisr al-Shughur and its vicinity are under the control of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP). The Turkish military may be coordinating with these terrorist groups.
In an agreement with Russia reached on March 5, Turkey agreed to reopen the M4. Nevertheless, this is yet to happen. Opposition supporters and militants are still blocking several sections of the highway. Ankara has not done anything about this, so far.
The establishment of observation posts near the M4 highway could help implement the March 5 agreement. However, it’s still unclear if this is Ankara’s real goal, or if it is just preparing for yet another military confrontation with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).