Leader of jihadist group troubled by dialogue between Turkey and Syria

Leader of jihadist group troubled by dialogue between Turkey and Syria
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After a meeting of Turkish and Syrian defense ministers in Moscow, HTS leader Al-Jolani released a video to warn against possible rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus.

The leader of Al Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls large parts of Idlib governerate in Northern Syria, criticized Turkey's recent attempts at dialogue with the Syrian government, and warned his supporters of "being let down by their close ones," Beirut-based independent Arab media Al Mayadeen said.

In a video released on Monday, Abu Mohammad Al-Jolani said that the ongoing talks between Damascus and Ankara under the auspices of Moscow mark a "serious setback."

"We have prepared ourselves for the great days to come," Al-Jolani said, calling on his supporters to stand by him and confront the upcoming challenges.

Al-Joulani's warning came days after Russian, Syrian, and Turkish defense ministers held talks on Wednesday in the Russian capital to discuss means of resolving the Syrian crisis.

Turkish and Syrian leaders may meet, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said two days later, strengthening the mood of rapprochement between the two countries.

Although there is no officially declared alliance between Turkey and HTS, the latter has been protected against Russian and Syrian attacks through means of dozens of military installations and observation posts set up in the region by the former in recent years.

In mid October, HTS took over control of the Kurdish-majority city of Afrin, occupied by the Turkish military and its proxies in 2018, while many armed factions operating under Turkish command cooperated with the jihadist group and the Turkish military did not take action against HTS's move.

In its military campaigns against Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), Turkey needs the support of Russia, who insists that Ankara restores its severed ties with Damascus.