Opposition fighters demolished a statue of Hafez al-Assad after they captured Idlib in northern Syria. AA* photo
(Reuters) – A Syrian military source accused Turkey on Monday of helping Islamist rebels to stage an assault on Idlib, a provincial capital which fighters seized at the weekend.
The source declined to comment on the situation in Idlib, citing security considerations, but a monitoring group has confirmed the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and allies now control Idlib and said the Syrian air force bombed the city on Monday.
The fall of Idlib, 30 km (20 miles) from the Turkish border, marks only the second time in the Syrian civil war that Damascus has lost control of a provincial capital. The first was Raqqa, which the ultra-radical Islamic State group has turned into the de facto capital of its self-declared caliphate…
This is not just hot air: the Turkish new site Hurriyet reported: Turkey welcomes fall of key city in Syria’s north:
Turkish officials have expressed their satisfaction at the seizure of the northern Syrian city of Idlib by opposition forces, stressing that the Ankara-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA) was part of the winning side.
The coalition that seized Idlib city on March 28 was composed of the al-Nusra Front, the official Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, as well as several Islamist factions.
“The al-Nusra Front and its allies have captured all of Idlib,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, according to AFP. “There is still a group of soldiers fighting in the security quarter of the city, but they will not be able to reverse the situation,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman added.
“Turkey is content that the opposition has captured Idlib. Our support for the FSA will continue,” a Turkish official told daily Hürriyet on condition of anonymity. The official also stressed it is wrong to credit only al-Nusra for the success, which “boosted” the FSA’s morale.
The jihadist group al-Nusra also announced the capture of the northwestern city on its official Twitter account…
So Erdogan is perfectly happy with al-Qaeda taking a city in Syria. And he wants to join the EU, who are apparently quite happy to have him.
*AA: Anadolu Agency: a state run news agency in Turkey