The agreement reached between Turkey and Russia on Syria’s Idlib have taken a new turn in these days. It was stated in the agreement that ‘‘radical terrorist groups [some of them affiliated with Al-Qaeda] must be removed from the Idlib border zone by October 15’’. Despite this, it seems that jihadists have not yet begun to withdraw from the region.
As the question of how Turkey ─the guarantor state of this process ─ would manage the withdrawal operation is still a matter of a debate, how and where thousands of jihadist groups would leave the area is a puzzlement.
THEY SAY, ‘‘YOU KNOW THE JIHADISTS THE BEST’’
Ali Haydar Hakverdi, a Deputy from the parliamentary main opposition Republican People Party (CHP), tabled a parliamentary question, asking that ‘‘Will the radical jihadist groups, who have withdrawn from Idlib, be emplaced in Konya and Kayseri provinces of Turkey?’’
Speaking to soL news portal, Hakverdi told that ‘‘The mission on the expulsion of jihadist groups from the region has been given to Turkey pursuant to the Sochi Agreement. Why? Because the political power in Turkey sympathizes these jihadist groups.’’
‘‘Authorities of other countries in the agreement think that Turkey know the jihadists the best’’, Hakverdi said, and added: ‘‘Well, it is quite good to evacuate this region; but where will these radical groups go? Some of them will probably come to Turkey. There are many vague points in this process. From which channel will this evacuation process be carried out? Will the border crossings be recorded, or they will be carried out via clandestine operations? The answers for these questions are not clear.’’
‘THEY MIGHT ORGANIZE TERRORIST ATTACKS LIKE 2015 ANKARA BOMBINGS’
Underlining that the jihadist groups to be relocated to Turkey might be quite dangerous, Hakverdi said, ‘‘These terrorist groups could be a threat risk for Turkey. They can organize several terrorist attacks like 2015 Ankara bombings at the train station. We warn the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with the parliamentary question we tabled. We inform our citizens living in Kayseri and Konya, where the jihadists will reportedly be relocated, to be watchful and sensitive.’’
‘GAZİANTEP, TARSUS, KONYA’
A majority of Syria’s Idlib province is under control of Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Turkistan Islamic Party, an armed Uyghur Salafist jihadist group.
In the previous weeks, Asia Times had claimed regarding Turkistan Islamic Party mostly under the influence of Turkish government that the members of this jihadist group may be individually relocated to Turkey.
According to the claim, conservative cities in Turkey such as Gaziantep, Tarsus and Konya will be likely the center of the jihadis to be expelled from the province entirely.
JIHADISTS HAVE NOT LEFT IDLIB YET
An official from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) said in a statement to Al-Masdar that jihadist groups inside the Idlib buffer zone have not withdrawn yet, adding that they continue to target the government areas with artillery shells and missiles.
Al-Qaeda affiliated Jaish al-Izza, Faylaq al-Sham, and Hurras al-Din announced that they would not adhere to the agreement until now.
According to the agreement reached in Sochi, radical armed militants have to leave the buffer zone in Idlib by October 15. It is estaimated that there are at least 30,000 armed Al-Qaeda members in the region.