SYRIA AND TURKEY RAMP UP PREPARATIONS FOR NEW MILITARY CONFRONTATION

SOUTH FRONT

The Syrian Army and Iranian-backed militias deployed a new batch of reinforcements to the frontline in southern Idlib and western Aleppo. According to local sources, fresh troops reinforced by armoured vehicles and battle tanks were placed near Saraqib, Kafranbel, and Urma as-Sughra. These areas were the hottest points of the conflict between Syrian troops and Turkish-led forces during the previous round of escalations in Greater Idlib. Turkey and its proxies are also preparing for a new round of confrontations.

During the past week, at least four Turkish military convoys, with battle tanks and even MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air-defense systems, entered Idlib, allegedly to secure the ceasefire regime and contain the terrorist threat. How Turkish troops are planning to use air defense systems against al-Qaeda terrorists that do not have aircraft remains a mystery.

At the same time, sources close to Idlib militants announced that Ankara is forming five new units consisting of its own troops, members of the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. Both these militant groups are funded and trained by Turkey. The newly formed units will be led by Turkish officers and allegedly include 9,000 Syrian militants and a similar number of Turkish troops. Pro-Turkish sources speculate that this force will be tasked with securing the M4 highway in southern Idlib and clearing the area of radical groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. After this, a security zone will be established and joint Turkish-Russian patrols will be launched in the area as it was agreed to by Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The problem with this theory is that the Turkish-backed groups, which should supposedly be involved in this operation are allied with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked organizations. So, they will have little motivation to confront them shifting the burden of fighting to Turkish troops.

According to pro-government sources, the Turkish motivation is different. They note that Ankara is very unsatisfied with the performance of their proxies during the recent battle against the Syrian Army. So, it opted to make a new attempt to create elite units that should deliver a devastating blow to the brutal Assad regime that is cowardly resisting the occupation of Syrian territory by Turkey.

Turkish-backed forces also increased their activity in Syria’s northeast. On March 29, the 20th Division of the so-called Syrian National Army attacked positions of Kurdish militias near the village of Sayda. Pro-Turkish sources claimed that a truck equipped with a 23mm machine gun belonging to Kurdish forces was destroyed and that many fighters were killed. Turkish proxies still cherish radiant hopes to capture the nearby town of Ayn Issa thus seizing control of the crossroad of the M4 highway and the Tall Abyad-Raqqah road.

The US-led coalition continues evacuation of smaller bases and regrouping of its forces in Iraq. After the withdrawal of coalition troops from al-Qaim and al-Qayyarah, they left from the Kirkuk K1 base. Means and forces from these facilities will be redeployed to other US bases in the country, mainly Camp Taji. There are no signs of any kind of US troop withdrawal from the country despite the demands from the Baghdad government. To the contrary, the Pentagon recently announced that it was working to deploy Patriot air defense systems to protect US troops in Iraq from missile attacks.

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UAE CROWN PRINCE DISCUSSES COVID-19 PANDEMIC WITH SYRIA’S ASSAD

UAE Crown Prince Discusses COVID-19 Pandemic With Syria’s Assad

South Front

Late on March 27, UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed discussed the coronavirus pandemic with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a rare phone call.

President Bashar al-Assad and Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Source: the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)

The two leaders discussed the precautionary measures taken in their countries to face the pandemic, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“I discussed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad updates on COVID-19. I assured him of the support of the UAE and its willingness to help the Syrian people. Humanitarian solidarity during trying times supersedes all matters, and Syria and her people will not stand alone,” Bin Zayed wrote on Twitter.

The call is the first between the two leaders since the outbreak of the Syrian war. The UAE suspended its relations with Syria in 2012 just like most Arab countries.

Work to restore relations between Syrian and the UAE began more than a year ago, when Abu Dhabi reopened its embassy in Damascus.

The UAE has registered 405 COVID-19 cases, including two fatalities, thus far. In Syria, only five cases of infection with the novel virus were documented.

Despite being one of the busiest transportation hubs in the Middle East, the UAE has been containing the pandemic with much success. The country’s experience and vast resources will for sure be of help for Syria, that is struggling due to crippling sanctions by the U.S. and EU.

Telephone call between President al-Assad and UAE’s Crown Prince

Created on Friday, 27 March 2020 19:40

DAMASCUS, (ST)_ A telephone call was made today between President Bashar al-Assad and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

The Crown Prince of the UAE asserted his country’s support for the people of Syria during the current exceptional circumstances. He cited that Syria will not be alone in these circumstances.

Basma Qaddour

LARGE EXPLOSION ROCKS TURKISH-OCCUPIED CITY IN SYRIA’S ALEPPO (VIDEOS)

On March 19, a large explosion rocked the Turkish-occupied city of Azaz in the northern countryside of Syria’s Aleppo. Local sources said an explosive-laden car exploded in the city’s western district, near the local council.

According to the Step News Agency, two people were killed and many others, including children, were injured in the car bomb attack. Several activists released videos showing the aftermath of the explosion.

There was no immediate claim for the attack. However, opposition activists said Kurdish forces, ISIS or even the Syrian intelligence may have been behind it.

Car bomb attacks are nothing new to Turkish-occupied areas in the northern and northeastern parts of Syria. In the last few months, dozens of people, including militants and Turkish soldiers, were killed in such attacks.

In spite of this, Turkey is yet to take any serious measure to improve security in these areas. The local law enforcement body, the Free Syrian Police, is not only dysfunctional, but also infamous for its corruption.

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New satellite images reveal Russian base equivalent to Hmeimim Airport in Syria

By News Desk -2020-03-18

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:45 P.M.) – A military base equivalent to the Hmeimim Airbase in northeastern Syria has been revealed by satellite images, the Russian aviation publication Avia.Pro reported.

“Russia has begun to establish in Syria its largest new military air base, which is said to be equipped no less than the Hmeimim Airport, and this has already been confirmed by satellite imagery,” Avia.Pro reported after posting a picture of the Qamishli Airport.

According to Avia.Pro, the Russian military is converting the Qamishli Airport in northeastern Syria as their main installation in that part of the country.

“According to information sources, the latest Russian military airbase in the city of Qamishli, located in the northern part of Syria, has already been prepared for the reception of combat aircraft and helicopters. At the present, Pantsir-S modern air defense systems are located here, capable of repulsing not only airstrikes, but also cruise missile attacks, and it was also reported that Tor air defense systems were deployed here, which indicates that Russia was prepared in case any attack from outside,” they continued.

AVia.

“In the satellite images presented, which are for the first time showing the VKS military base, you can see that at least four military helicopters currently located at Qamishli Airport, although earlier Su-25 attack aircraft and Il-76 military transport aircraft were landing here,” Avia.Pro added.

The Russian military was given control of the Qamishli Airport by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) after an agreement was made with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to give them access to several areas in northeastern Syria.

U.S. JOINS AL-QAEDA EFFORTS TO UNDERMINE RUSSIAN-TURKISH CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT IN IDLIB

U.S. Joins Al-Qaeda Efforts To Undermine Russian-Turkish Ceasefire Agreement In Idlib
Click to see full-size image

South Front

On March 17th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave remarks to the press, and expressed Washington’s desire to undermine the Idlib ceasefire, agreed between Russia and Turkey.

“Additionally, we believe Russia has killed dozens of Turkish military personnel in the course of their military operations, and we stand with our NATO ally Turkey and will continue to consider additional measures to support Turkey and to end the violence in Idlib and in Syria more broadly.”

Thus, he alleged that Russia itself killed “dozens of Turkish soldiers”

Earlier in the day, Syrian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ali Abdullah Ayoub was sanctioned by the US, for “perpetuating the violence and the disastrous humanitarian crisis inside of Syria.  His deliberate actions since December of 2019 have prevented a ceasefire from taking hold inside of Syria.  The obstruction resulted in the displacement of almost a million people in dire need of humanitarian aid in the midst of a cold winter in Idlib.”

Of course, the “bloody Assad regime” is, also, not the only one to blame – since plenty of guilt lies in its enablers – Russia and Iran.

“The Assad regime’s forces, backed by Russia and Iranian-supported forces, have been responsible for the continued bombardments that destroyed schools and hospitals and killed civilians, including medical professionals and first responders who were risking their lives to save others inside of Syria.”

Ayoub has been added to the department’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Person List and any of his assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen. Americans are now generally prohibited from conducting business with him.

Earlier, United States Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey said that if the Idlib ceasefire falls through, Washington and its allies may target Russia with sanctions, since it would be to blame for any such scenario.

“So our goal is to inventory here in Brussels with our European and NATO colleagues what are the military, the diplomatic, the economic, the sanctions, and the media and outreach steps we can take to encourage Russia and Syria not to do what we think they want to do, which is to break the ceasefire, push these 3 million refugees across the border, but rather to think twice.  If they ignore our warnings, if they ignore our preparations and move forward, we will then react as rapidly as possible in consultation with our European and NATO allies on what the package of sanctions and other reactions will be.”

Thus, the US is actively working to undermine the deal, and at the same time says that if the deal fails, Russia would be to blame and would be sanctioned for it.

It should be reminded that on December 17th, 2019, US Senate lawmakers, in a bipartisan vote, approved a $738 billion Pentagon budget, which included an authorization for punishing new sanctions on the Syrian government.

It also included legislation known as the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2019, the bill includes legislation authorizing sanctions within six months on Syria government officials, military and civilian leaders.

International energy companies seeking to redevelop Syria’s oil sector could be a target as well as any company that provides parts for aircraft, including helicopters. Even entities that loan money to the Syrian government could be sanctioned.

On March 17th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also held a teleconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The four discussed various topics, and notably actions against the COVID-19 and Idlib was also discussed.

“We found opportunity to extensively evaluate many topics ranging from fight against coronavirus and the humanitarian situation in [Syria’s] Idlib, to solutions to Syria crisis, matter of asylum seekers and Turkey-EU relations at the summit,” Erdogan said on Twitter following the summit.

“In this difficult process that we pass through at the regional and global level, we will operate diplomacy and cooperation mechanisms more actively, and we will resolutely continue our efforts to resolve problems as soon as possible,” he added.

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A summit meeting between President Al-Assad and Erdogan is not possible while Turkey is occupying Syrian areas: Shaaban

Thursday, 12 March 2020 06:53

ST


DAMASCUS, (ST)- “Had it not been for the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army in Aleppo and Idlib, the Russian-Turkish agreement would not have been reached,” Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, the Presidential Political and Media Advisor, stressed, pointing out that the agreement provides for combating terrorism, maintaining the liberated area and stopping bloodshed.

The Syrian army has liberated an area of more than 2000 square km from terrorism over the past weeks and it has inflicted heavy losses upon the terrorists and the Turks, she said in an interview with the Beirut-based “al-Mayadeen” TV on Wednesday.

She added that the agreement is both a political and a military battle to defeat terrorists, liberate the land and create circumstances for the return of the displaced.

She went on to say that Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies are in daily coordination, noting that the Syrian-Iranian relations are deep-rooted and they have been strengthened during the war on Syria, but there is a fifth column that doubts the intentions of Syria’s friends and allies who are assisting the Syrian Arab army in fighting terrorism.

 Concerning the tension between Europe and Turkey over the refugee crisis, Shaaban said that “Erdogan has lost by blackmailing Europe . He opened Turkey’s borders with Europe to refugees despite a Turkish-European agreement.” (The agreement seeks to control the crossing of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the Greek islands). She clarified that “the European themselves stressed that most of the refugees were not Syrians.”

“I think the Europeans should know that Erdogan is not the one who has the solution for the migrants, that he is the problem. He is the one who caused all this migration from Syria. And, I would like also to put many question marks around the figures that Erdogan gives to Europe in order to get as much money as he can from European countries to help his staggering economy,” Shaaban said, referring to the funds that Ankara has asked for to allegedly support refugees in Turkey.

She stressed that the world has become aware that Erdogan’s policies pose a threat to international peace and security.

 The Presidential advisor also said that the United States has created and supported al-Qaeda and ISIS and it is not strange if it supports Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization.

She made it clear that what Erdogan is doing serves Israel’s interests as he trades with the Palestinian cause and seeks occupying Syrian lands. She affirmed that it is not possible to hold a summit meeting between President Al-Assad and Erdogan while Turkey is occupying Syrian areas.

She made it clear that Syria welcomes inter-Arab relations, because Arab coordination is a point of strength to all the Arabs.

Shaaban asserted that the Syrian people reject occupation and have always been ready to defend their land, reiterating the Syrians’ rejection of the presence of the American occupying forces in the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

She recalled President Al-Assad’s saying that “we will liberate every inch of our land. We will liberate Idleb and eradicate terrorism from all Syria and we have the Syrian army and the Syrian leadership’s plans for achieving this goal.”

Hamda Mustafa

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هُزم أردوغان أمام الأسد… وروسيا وإيران للاحتواء

التعليق السياسي

في البعد الميدانيّ لا يمكن الفصل بين إنجازات الجيش السوري وانتصاراته من جهة، ودعم الحلفاء الصادق والموثوق والمستدام من جهة مقابلة، خصوصاً حجم البسالة والشجاعة والتضحية التي تظهرها تجربة حزب الله وفصائل المقاومة وأهمها في معركة سراقب التي كانت الضربة القاضية لطموحات وأطماع وعنجهيّة الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، بالتوازي مع حجم العزيمة التي يُظهرها الحليفان الروسي والإيراني بكل أشكال الدعم والمؤازرة المادية والمعنوية وصولاً للإحاطة التفاوضية الصلبة لتظهير الانتصارات العسكرية في السياسة.

المسألة في السياسة تقع في مكان آخر، حيث لا مشروع جذرياً للمقاومة عنوانه المواجهة مع مشروع تركي، وسقف مطلب المقاومة هو حماية مشروع الدولة السورية كقلعة للمقاومة، ومنع أحلام التقسيم التي عبث عبرها الأميركيون بالعقول التركية والكردية للعبث بسورية وتغطية وجودهم، وبالتوازي لا مشروع لدى روسيا وإيران بكسر تركيا بل إن جوهر مشروعهم وفقاً للحسابات الدولية والإقليمية هو احتواء تركيا واعتماد سياسة المطرقة والسندان معها، بتظهير استحالة تحقيق أحلام أردوغان وأطماعه وتدفيعه ثمن العناد على تحقيقها غالياً؛ وبالمقابل فتح الباب لتراجعه عندما يستوعب الدرس للعودة إلى الصف، لأن الرؤية الروسية الإيرانية للمدى الجيواستراتيجي لغرب آسيا يشتغل منذ سنوات على احتواء تركيا وإبعادها أكثر فأكثر عن المحور الأميركي وزرع الشكوك بينها وبينه على طرفي العلاقة.

الجهة الوحيدة التي تخوض صراعاً على جوهر المشروع مع تركيا هي الدولة السورية، وهي الجهة الوحيدة التي يتوقف على تموضع الرئيس التركي على أرضية مشروعها ضمان استقامة واستقرار الأوضاع بين تركيا والمحور الروسي الإيراني، وإذا كان ممكناً القول إن هزيمة مدوية لحقت بالرئيس التركي، فإن ذلك قد حدث لحساب الدولة السورية، وأمام جيشها، وخرج الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد منتصراً، حيث يتحوّل دور الحلفاء إلى عنصر مساندة لا يبحث عن نصره الخاص وليس لديه مشروعه الخاص.

لذلك بالمعنى السياسي والاستراتيجي هناك منتصر ومهزوم في حرب إدلب والمنتصر هو الدولة السورية ومشروعها، والمهزوم هو مشروع العثمانيّة الوهميّ الذي يسعى إليه أردوغان وباقي الحلفاء هنا وهناك هم حلفاء.

هُزم أردوغان أمام الأسد في جولة حاسمة مؤجّلة منذ عشر سنوات.

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