Turkey to Use Russia-Sponsored Safe Zones in Syria to 'Further Its Agenda'

© AP PhotoA Turkish army tank stationed near the Syrian border, in Suruc, Turkey, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.
A Turkish army tank stationed near the Syrian border, in Suruc, Turkey, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. - Sputnik International
Ankara is likely to "exploit" the newly established de-escalation zones in Syria to pursue its own interests in the war-torn neighboring country, Gregory Copley, an editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs and president of the International Strategic Studies Association, told Radio Sputnik.

"Anything which leads to a cessation of violence is to be welcomed, although it would be a mistake to be optimistic about it. I see this as suspending the situation rather than resolving it. I think that armed groups also feel that way," he said, referring to the recent deal inked by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran at the Syrian peace talks in Astana.

The memorandum is aimed at preventing any clashes between government forces and armed groups in four safe zones, covering northern Idlib province and parts of neighboring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces, as well as the northern part of Homs province, Eastern Ghouta and an area in southern Syria near the border with Jordan. The deal came into force on Saturday.

"The party which is going to take the most advantage out of this is Turkey. Turkey does not have the military strength to confront their ambitions in Syria directly. They have to work through proxies. They work through a lot of jihadi groups. They need to sow the seeds of unrest one way or another. So they will take advantage of this temporary cessation of hostilities to further their agenda politically."

Copley suggested that bringing Ankara on board as a guarantor of a ceasefire in Syria is "a mistake" since Turkey once played a major part in fomenting unrest in the embattled Arab country.

Fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) drive a tank in the al-Zohour neighbourhood of northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh (File) - Sputnik International
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"Turkey was one of the primary instigators of the conflict. Yes, they were supported by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States in many respects, but the reality is that Turkey wishes to make gains in Syria. It has already done so. It has established a beachhead with this position as a guarantor and will try to exploit that even further. Basically this is a situation where you keep pushing forward and then you hold where you are as much as you can," he explained.

Russia and Turkey have also been the guarantors of a nationwide ceasefire, reached in December following Damascus' victory in Aleppo.

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