Country Risk

Turkey likely to withdraw from jihadist-held areas around Idlib to enable Syrian government offensive

10 August 2018

Key Points

  • IHS Markit data indicates that non-state armed groups that we have classified as ‘jihadist opposition’ have been contained by Turkey and its proxies in a pocket of control around Idlib.
  • Turkey is likely to yield to pressure from Russia, which effectively controls airspace over Idlib, to withdraw its observation posts from this area ahead of a major government operation.
  • Jihadists will probably seek to transfer to eastern Syria, with tacit acceptance if not active facilitation by the government, to increase pressure on the US-led coalition to leave Syria.


The Syrian government dropped leaflets over opposition-held areas of Idlib province on 9 August, stating that the war was nearly over and urging the population to return to government rule.

Following the government’s recapture of southern Syria, the last significant stronghold of opposition control is an area along the Turkish border in northwestern Syria, which includes much of Idlib province and a strip of land north of Aleppo, reaching from Afrin to the Euphrates River at Jarabulus (see map). These areas are roughly split between a northern and southern half along a line between the Bab al-Hawa border crossing and the city of Aleppo.

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