IHH, a Turkish charity, are in rural Idlib, putting up tents.


This means a healthy number of Turkish civilians are in a war zone in a neighbouring country, Syria, and therefore under the wings of the kings of the Syrian skies: Assad and Putin. And IHH didn’t hang about getting there.

However, a quick check suggests the Western press has not noticed this initiative, despite several Al Jazeera journalists having made their presentations from the border crossing at Cilvegözü of late, through which crossing IHH has passed. IHH are tweeting only in Turkish – which does not help. And, this is a religiously-inspired humanitarian démarche or manoeuvre, which may sew doubt in the Western media’s brain, addled as it is by the confusions of Islam – Islam’s peace only an antidote to its inherent warrior code, the jihad, some would say. But all peace exists because war exists, many may forget.

Cilvegözü is in Hatay province, which is that little slither of Turkey which juts into Syria along the Mediterranean coast, easily overlooked on a small scale map. The border crossing is about 40km (~25 miles) almost due west of Aleppo city. Idlib governorate lies between Hatay and the Aleppo governorate. Nearly all of Idlib governorate is in rebel hands, this zone contiguous with that portion of the western part of Aleppo governorate still in rebel hands.

Both areas are régime targets. Turkey is also present, but militarily, north of Aleppo city, a significant area seized, as part of the Euphrates Shield operation. Turkey however is working, in some contexts, closely with Russia. The degree of apparent incompatibility here benefits from a little imaginative thinking as regards why Turkey and Russia might align. One answer is NOT that Erdogan has decided to accommodate Assad.