In an effort to rid key areas in Syria of Al Qaeda forces, Turkey (and the FSA) is working with Russia and Iran to establish four deescalation zones in Syria. Turkey hopes to rid the Idlib province of the AlQaeda Hay’et Tahir al Sham forces. This is an area of great importance to Turkey as is lies along their border with Syria.

Analysis: From a security standpoint it is important to understand that Turkey typically does not share good relations with either Syria, Russia or Iran; however, all parties have agreed to cooperate in order to set up these “deescalation” zones throughout Syria. In the last two years, with the U.S. backing the Kurds, whom the Turks have long opposed, the Turks are now willing to be more cooperative with Russia because Russia has become a power-player in Syria that Turkey cannot ignore. Turkey has an interest in maintaining safety along its borders and Al-Asaad has an interest in ridding Syria of this Al-Qaeda affiliate–even if it pushes the Hay’et Tahir al-Sham into Turkey (thus out of Syria). Turkey is allied with the U.S. and therefore the U.S. will do what it can to help Turkey–short of setting up prolonged forces in the area. Russia and Iran continue to focus much of their forces and attention on trying to gain and maintain control over the resource-rich area of Deir al-Zour.