U.S. Syria envoy to raise Turkey security concerns with NATO

James Jeffrey, the U.S. president’s special envoy for Syria, will discuss how to assist Turkey with its security concerns and tensions in northwest Syria’s Idlib province at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said.

President Donald Trump’s envoy "will visit NATO where he will meet with allies on the crisis in Idlib and discuss its implications for NATO and ways to support Turkey’s security concerns," the State Department said in a statement.

Turkey reached an agreement last Thursday with Russia to halt the fighting in Idlib, the last rebel-held province in the country, after an attack by the Russian-backed Syrian government on Feb. 27 killed dozens of Turkish soldiers, sparking a week-long retaliatory operation.

The deal called for an end to all military activity in the province and has set a framework for joint patrols by Turkish and Russian troops along a key highway running through Idlib and for the creation of a 6 km-wide security zone.

But the threat to Turkey from Idlib remains real, with more than 1 million Syrians displaced to the Turkish border after fleeing the Syrian government’s advance. The Turkish military has continued deploying armour and heavy weaponry in the province as fears that a fresh push by Syrian government forces could drive huge numbers of civilians into Turkey.

Jeffrey will also discuss the situation in Idlib with senior European Union officials, and will press for the implementation of the United Nations’ roadmap for a political solution to the Idlib crisis, the State Department said.