'Kurdophobia’ at centre of Turkey’s intervention in Syria’s Idlib, academic says

Turkish nationalism and security concerns surrounding the Kurdish issue shape Ankara’s Syria policy, including its intervention in the last rebel-held province of Idlib, academic Cemal Özkahraman said in an article for the Jerusalem Post.

The most important reason behind Turkish presence in Idlib and other parts of Syria is "Kurdophobia", Özkahraman said.

"Turkey could not endure any possibility of Kurdish self-determination or even basic human rights either at home or beyond Turkish borders, which is why Turkey has attacked and assaulted Kurdish areas in Syria whenever an opportunity arose," he said.

The breakdown of Turkey’s peace process with the outlawed militant groups fighting for Kurdish self-rule in July 2015, and its fears that Syrian Kurds would gain more legitimacy after they became the main U.S. partner against the Islamic State, led to several major Turkish military operations with allied Syrian Islamist militias against Kurdish forces in northern Syria since 2016.

Meanwhile, Turkey significantly increased its military presence in Idlib after suffering its biggest military blow of the Syrian war in late February, when 34 of its soldiers were killed in an airstrike. Following that attack, Turkey launched an operation in conjunction with Turkish-backed Syrian militias, in which heavy drone and artillery bombardment took out scores of Syrian government forces.