AL-SHAHBA/ AREF SULIMAN
ANHA correspondent conducted an interview with the head of the Syrian National Democratic Alliance of al-Shahba branch, Mahmoud Hamdak, to discuss the latest situation in Idlib and the differences between Russia and Turkey.
How do you assess the situation in Idlib under the control of Hayet Tahrir al-Sham over most of the area? And why has the situation in Idlib reached what it is now, especially that there is a daily military escalation in the so-called demilitarized zones?
Turkey is working to hand over Idlib to Russia in the event of its efforts' success to participate in the buffer zone in the east of the Euphrates, but if it fails, I think it will change the name of Hayet Tahrir al-Sham and annex it to the so-called National Army. These attempts aim at legitimizing Jabhet al-Nusra by annexing it to the National Army and securing a place for it in the committee of drafting the new Syrian constitution.
There is a dispute between Russia and Turkey about Idlib to exit Hayet Tahrir al-Sham, what is the source of these differences? And why this escalation emerged from the Russian side at this time?
The Russian-Turkish dispute began at the end of 2018 when there were promises from the Turkish side to open the Damascus-Latakia road and establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib between 15 and 20 kilometres. Turkey did not abide by this promise and certainly, there would be disagreement between the two sides.
On February 14, a tripartite meeting between Turkey, Russia and Iran will take place. In your opinion, what is the purpose of this meeting, and will they reach any solution?
The meeting that will be held on February 14 is for the countries that were the guarantors of the De-escalation zones, but because of the divergence of these countries, we do not expect them to reach a solution, especially in the current situation. There is international pressures on Iran to get out of Syria, and after the American President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from Syria, Turkey which is considered an invasive and occupying force must get out of all Syrian territories.
Under all these developments, how do you see the future of Idlib? What is your opinion?
Idlib is part of the Syrian territory and must be returned to the Syrian sovereignty. There must be no extremist forces no less extreme than IS mercenaries, and they cannot be accepted in the context of talking about a solution in Syria.