The spokesman for the US-led anti-ISIS coalition in Syria and Iraq:
.@OIRSpox Colonel Myles Caggins says the #Idlib province is a "magnet" for terrorist groups who are a "nuisance, a menace and a threat" to the hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria, who are just "trying to make it through the winter."
— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 20, 2020
Understand this in the context of Turkey asking for US air defenses and fighters to back it in its floundering Idlib campaign. The Pentagon for all its professional irritation with the Russians has little affinity for Erdogan, and even less so for his jihadi godchildren.
Remember that even in the heyday of US support for Syria’s Islamist rebels it was largely the CIA which funneled arms and money to them, while the Pentagon largely stuck to building up the secular Kurdish YPG.
Being put at Erdogan’s disposal against Russia and ultimately on the behalf of al-Qaeda is not a proposition that fills the US military brass with joy.
That’s why they are taking time off to remind everyone Idlib is run by bin Ladenites. I find it notable that the US spokesman specifically says the problem is that Idlib is “ungoverned” that is to say, outside Syrian government control. Likewise, he expresses sympathy for civilians but identifies “terror groups” as the source of their hardship countering the Turkish narrative that al-Qaeda’s control of Idlib must be preserved on the behalf of its civilians