21:22 GMT02 March 2021
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    There is the threat of a "jihadist belt" along the Syrian-Turkish border, Hediye Levent, a Turkish journalist working in Damascus, told Sputnik.

    The journalist commented on the situation in Aleppo and its impact on the course of the Syrian crisis as well as on the situation in Turkey.

    According to Levent, now it is difficult to say how much of Syria’s territory has already been liberated by the Syrian Army.

    "I just can say that a large part of the Syrian population lives in cities controlled by the government. Currently, there some 17 million people in Syria.

    In addition, major industrial factories and other production facilities have been moved to city centers," she said in an interview with Sputnik Turkiye.

    She underscored that in the light of the recent events the situation in Syria "has significantly changed."

    "Now, we’re expecting a gradual transition to the period of rebuilding ruined buildings and factories. Of course, this will happen only if there are no emergencies, because a proxy war is still underway in the country. We should be braced for any dramatic turn of events," Levent pointed out.

    Moreover, the journalist argued that after several years of war Syrian people have become much more confident in their government.

    "Currently, positions of the government are strong, but when the war ends people may call for reforms in Syria," she added.

    Talking about the domestic situation in Syria, Levent drew parallels with what has been recently going on in Turkey.

    "Due to a number of reasons and factors, the Syrian government failed to prevent the rise of jihadism within society and finally the country was engulfed in a war. Now take a look at Turkey. Since 2011, thousands of people from Turkey have travelled to fight in Syria. Moreover, for many foreign militants Turkey was a transit point where they could undergo training. As a result, a number of local jihadists groups have emerged in Turkey," Levent said.

    According to her, the saddest part of the story is that the Turkish government still does not want to admit the problem.

    "They [the Turkish government] still consider al-Nusra Front a normal political structure. But in fact, al-Nusra Front is the continuation of al-Qaeda.

    Currently, there is a real danger that a jihadist belt could be formed in the area between Idlib and Turkey," the journalist argued.

    Levent also commented on the future of the Turkish policy towards Syria, saying that no significant changes can be expected in the near future.

    "Ankara and Damascus will continue to have talks, brokered by a third party. But I don’t think that now can sit down to the negotiating table and settle their problems. Turkey should change its policy on Syria. Recently, Ankara has been sending such signals. But it’s too early for conclusions," she said.


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