Why NATO should grit its teeth and help Turkey in Idlib

The crisis is an opportunity for the alliance to reinvigorate itself, while alleviating the suffering

Few places on Earth are more miserable than Idlib province, the last big pocket of rebel-held territory in war-torn Syria. It is home to some 3m people, roughly half of whom are there only because they have fled fighting elsewhere. Along with the poor, huddled masses came jihadists, who now largely control the territory. Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, wants it back, even if that means reducing it to rubble. His months-long bombing campaign has destroyed schools, houses and hospitals, and pushed a million people towards Turkey’s sealed border. Many are trapped there, cold, hungry and exposed.

The world is at last waking up to this humanitarian crisis—and to the fact that Turkey is the only country trying to stave it off. Fearing another flood of migrants, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has sent thousands of troops to Idlib in recent weeks to stop Mr Assad’s offensive. Dozens were killed in an attack by Syrian (and perhaps Russian) forces on February 27th, prompting retaliatory strikes from Turkey (see article). But what got the attention of European countries was Mr Erdogan’s decision to open Turkey’s borders and send refugees streaming their way (see article).