SYRIAN WAR REPORT – DECEMBER 11, 2019: TURKISH PROXIES SEEK TO CAPTURE CHUNKS OF M4 HIGHWAY

South Front

On December 10, the military situation escalated in northern Lattakia and the surrounding area. According  to pro-government sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and allied militant groups conducted attacked and shelled several positions of the Syrian Army near the M4 highway and south of the town of Kbani.

In response, Syrian air forces and artillery units conducted strikes on militants’ positions near Jisr al-Shoughur, al-Janoudiya, and at a contact line near the M4 highway and Kbani. Pro-militant sources immediately described these strikes as an example of blatant aggression and ceasefire violations by the Assad regime.

Pro-Turkish sources reported that units affiliated with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces shelled positions of Turkish-backed militant groups near the city of Afrin.

In the province of Raqqa, Turkish-led forces once again seized the Shirlrak silos located on the M4 highway, east of Ayn Issa. Earlier this month, Turkish proxies withdrew from the area under the agreement between Aknara and Moscow. The control over Shirlrak allows pro-Turkish groups to rob civilians that use the highway. If they remain there, the Shirlrak silos will likely become a new point of tensions soon.

Meanwhile, Russian President’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev said that Turkey and Russia had agreed to not expand the northeastern Syria safe zone. Therefore, attempts by Turkish-led forces to seize more areas along the M4 highway is an open violation of the ceasefire agreement.

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