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'He's Put a Pause in Putin's Step': Crisis Averted in Syria, Trump & Erodgan Credited

09-21-2018
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Watch Gary Lane's Where in the World  interview with John Hannah to hear what he thinks should be done to help Syrian Christians.

This week, Turkish President Erdogan met with Russian President Putin and warned him of the impending danger of a planned all-out assault on the city of Idlib, Syria. 

The city is in northwestern Syria not far from Aleppo and is considered one of the last remaining strongholds for the rebels fighting against the Assad regime.

Erdogan fears a large-scale military assault on Idlib would create a massive flow of refugees into his country, leading to an unmanageable humanitarian crisis. 

Turkey is currently host to more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees. Their presence has placed a heavy burden on the Turkish economy and has caused more than a million Syrians to leave their temporary tents and seek better lives and economic opportunities in Europe.

The Turkish president says more than 2 million Syrians would likely flee into his country if Syrian and Russian forces move forward with the Idlib assault.

Putin reportedly convinced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib starting October 15. It isn't known at this time if anti-government insurgents—including the Al Nusra group and members of Al Qaeda—would agree to leave the area by that deadline, or if at all.

John Hannah, senior counselor for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies says President Trump's tough talks and tweets warning Putin and the Syrians to back off from the Idlib assault have made a difference in calming tensions—at least for now.

"He's put a pause in Putin's step. It looked like an offensive was immiment in Idlib and yet over the course of the last week from all the reports we are getting, at least there's been a temporary stand down of any offensive," Hannah said.

So, why would Putin and Assad back down at this time?

"I think Putin first and foremost is very, very worried about a possible American military action if an offensive goes forward. And he is worried in the aftermath that he doesn't want to be the person caught holding the bill for any reconstruction effort in Syria," Hannah explained.

Hannah said Putin's plan and strategy has been to break Syria and then make the Europeans and the United States pay to rebuild the country. 
 
"If he goes forward in Idlib now, I think that is forever off the table."

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