Battleground Idlib: Russia and Turkey’s Interests amidst the COVID-19 crisis
Dr Yatharth Kachiar, Research Associate, VIF

The civil war in Syria similar to the continuing conflicts in Yemen and Libya has its roots in the 2011 Arab spring protests. The protracted conflict between President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces and a fragmented opposition has been diffused by Russia and Iran and the ruling regime has succeeded to reclaim majority of territories. The north-western governorate of Idlib is one of the last rebel-held regions and the Syrian government is pursuing its efforts to reclaim control since late 2016. Turkey however has opposed Syria’s advances in Idlib based on its strategic objectives and unique challenges. The competing objectives of Syria and Turkey have been manoeuvred by Russia to suit its interests. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the strategic positioning of Syria, Turkey and Russia raising questions over its impact on the refugees, re-appearance of insurgent and terrorist groups and the overall implication on the decade long crisis. The research would therefore explore the strategic interests of Turkey and Russia and analyse its implications on Syria. It would also examine the strategic posturing of Russia, Turkey and Syria in light of the pandemic.

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