Muslim: Turkey wants to withdraw militias from Idlib to Afrin

After the Idlib agreement between Putin and Erdoğan, Kurdish politician Salih Muslim assumes that Turkey intends to withdraw the jihadist militias it supports from Idlib to Afrin.

Salih Muslim, spokesman for the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) diplomacy committee, spoke to the ANHA news agency on the Idlib agreement announced Monday in Sochi by Turkish President Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Putin.

Salih Muslim referred to the Astana talks previously held with Turkish, Russian and Iranian participation, saying: "The Astana talks were only enough to bring together militias from different parts of Syria in Idlib."

Muslim pointed out that Russia and Iran were trying to withdraw the militia from Idlib but the Turkish state opposed it.

"As a result, Russia has tried to keep Iran out of the Idlib affair. The debate over a major offensive in Idlib was merely propaganda material over the media. This was an attempt to cheat the public of Syria. At the heart of the matter, there is not the slightest change in the Idlib question. In that sense, Iran and the Syrian government must solve this problem before it becomes a total dead-end," Muslim said.

The goals pursued by the Turkish state in Syria are well known, Muslim continued. "However, we do not know what new agreements were concluded between Turkey and Russia. Of course we wish that the Kurds would not again be made into bargaining power. If there is any initiative against the Kurdish achievements, we will defend ourselves politically and militarily."

Russia has urged Turkey to remove its controlled militia from Syria, Muslim said. He remarked that the majority of the militiamen assembled in Idlib were foreigners and brought to the region by the Turkish intelligence agency MIT.

States like the US, Britain and France would not leave Idlib to Russia and Turkey alone, Muslim said and continued: "The Idlib question is important for all states and there is no solution in sight. It could come to a solution if the militias laid down their arms. If they do not do so, the Syrian crisis will intensify further. Where should the militia be sent if they withdraw from Idlib? Turkey is undoubtedly planning to send these terrorist groups to Afrin. We will never accept that and we will fight the militias. Afrin has a vital place for us and we will never give it up. If the militia are transferred to Afrin, the situation in the region will get extremely aggravated.”

Muslim went on saying that without the permission of Russia, Turkey would not be able to attack the areas of northern Syria liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). "During his talk with Putin, Erdoğan openly declared that he wants to attack northern Syria. In return for Russian support in a renewed occupation of Manbij, Turkey offers to solve the problem in Idlib. However, Russia has rejected this proposal because Manbij is not under Russian control."