After seven years of conflict, the future of the Syrian civil war may come down to the battle for Idlib. Syrian leader Bashar Assad has already taken back control of much of the country, and this northwestern province is the last remaining rebel stronghold.
But taking back Idlib won’t be easy. In fact, it’ll be harder and more complicated than many of the other recent campaigns in the south for two reasons. First, it is a much larger region than the areas in the south, such as Daraa, Eastern Ghouta and Quneitra, that the Syrian army seized in recent months. It is, therefore, also more heavily populated with rebels, in part because many of the cease-fires brokered by Russia in the south allowed rebels safe passage out of these areas and into Idlib. Second, Turkey has a military presence in Idlib. This complicates the situation for all parties involved because Turkey and the Syrian regime have conflicting interests in this region. Russia supports the regime but doesn’