Russia Showcases Operations Of Its Combat Drones In Syria. Time To Push Idlib?

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Russia released a video showing its Orion combat drone carrying out strikes on targets in Syria. This marked the very first time such footage was being released. It shows the drone’s operation, lock-on and launching of a payload on a militant target. The Orion is a long-flight duration attack-reconnaissance UAV, that can also carry out airstrikes. According to the report, this type of UAV has carried out 38 sorties, including 17 strike missions.

Meanwhile, a new electronic surveillance system has been spotted at the Russian-operated Hmeimim Air Base. The Avtobaza-M can determine the parameters of signals and types of radars, track air and seaborne objects by their electronic signature and support higher air defense command and control posts with data.

Despite the ISIS threat in central Syria, the focus of the key players is evidently shifting towards Idlib. The US and its ally-to-be Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) will begin active movements soon.

Russia reported that HTS is preparing to stage a chemical attack, similar to those that led to US missile strikes back in 2018 and earlier. More than once, the US-led coalition carried out strikes on Syrian government forces, in punishment of alleged chemical weapons usage.

This sense of urgency is also felt in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The government forces are opening a civilian corridor to evacuate civilians from Greater Idlib.

This is likely because an offensive is on the way, the SAA is preparing, likely together with Russia and some Iranian support to push on the biggest militant stronghold left in Syria. To prime the location, the SAA carried out heavy shelling, killing or injuring at least 5 militants in the process.

This is likely an ideal moment to push for Idlib, because Turkey is focused in Northeastern Syria, and so is the US. The SAA has deployed large amounts of forces in that region, which is out of the way.

It also moved its short-range defense systems to Iraq, which makes it an even more opportune moment for the SAA and Russia to push to push in another direction, and namely Idlib. The following days will show whether this evacuation of civilians is, indeed, a preparation for an offensive.

The ceasefire regime and the demilitarized zone are largely non-functional, despite Russia’s efforts to implement them. Turkey, the other co-signatory, is focused on fighting the Kurdish in the north. Even without that distraction, it seldom paid any attention to adhering to the rules set out in the deal.

The Syrian Arab Army, and its allies, likely need to push before HTS are completely rebranded as “moderate opposition” and their ties to al-Qaeda are forgotten. Additionally, this needs to be happen before ISIS pushes further out from central Syria.

ARRANGING THE MIDDLE EAST NARRATIVE TO PUSH THE AGENDA FORWARD

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The United States is returning to a level of activity in the Middle East unseen in nearly 4 years. This development has become obvious over the weeks since Joe Biden became US President, firstly with a large deployment into Syria, and subsequently with smaller ones.

On February 9th, the Pentagon said that it was no longer in Syria to protect and exploit oil fields.

It is now back to hunting ISIS. Back to the square one of 2014 and the Obama era. ISIS somehow obliged by ramping up their activities throughout Syria.

It is a mystery that they were able to make such a sharp and sudden resurgence. It should also be noted that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces allegedly have about 10,000 ISIS terrorists imprisoned.

This statement of intent denotes a massive shift in posture for the US.  When defending the oil fields the US troops were mostly static, when hunting ISIS they can, once again, roam around and carry out various operations.

It appears likely that Idlib is now also in focus – US combat drones were observed surveying Greater Idlib. Idlib is a mixed bag – it has Turkish troops, Russians, the Syrian Arab Army along with terrorists and the moderate opposition, although confusing these two groups can be forgiven. The newest, future, US ally is there – the soon-to-be-rebranded Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

An indication of expected escalations and attacks are the Russian and Syrian military drills being carried out near Aleppo during effective wartime. Russia, separately, carried out a naval drill near Tartus.

And, as if by design, long-range missiles attempted to strike Russia’s forces at the Hmeimim Air Base. Drones occasionally attempt to infiltrate its airspace, but missiles are a rare sight.

Meanwhile in Western Daraa, the rebel leaders submitted to Damascus, likely fearing the upcoming chaos and wanting to choose a side.

Finally, the Biden administration is also working to secure Israeli support. The State Department said it doesn’t endorse Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but doesn’t oppose it. It also provided a $9bn weapon sale as consolation. Tel Aviv is likely to use these weapons to counter its nemesis – Iran. It does so by targeting alleged Iranian interests in Syria.

Syria remains the lynchpin of US Middle East policy but the US posture in Iraq and Afghanistan has also changed. Withdrawing from the region is now out of the question – ISIS is making a resurgence, and there are other groups targeting American forces and convoys.

In Afghanistan, specifically, if the withdrawal does not move forward, the Taliban are also likely to begin targeting the US again.

The democrats are back in control and back to spreading democracy in the Middle East.

Russian Air Force destroys jihadist underground drone factory in Idlib

By News Desk -2020-08-22

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – On August 18th, the Russian Air Force carried out a powerful attack over the Idlib Governorate, striking the positions of the jihadist rebels near Jabal Khaybah.

According to Anna News reporter, Oleg Blokhin, the Russian Air Force specifically targeted an underground factory and warehouse belonging to the jihadist group, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), in the Idlib Governorate town of Haranbush.

Blokhin reported that the underground factory was used by Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham to produce drones and other types of weapons, including suicide belts.

The Russian Air Force’s attack came in retaliation for the several attempted strikes by the jihadist rebels on the Hmeimim Airbase in the Latakia Governorate.

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and their jihadist allies have repeatedly attempted to bomb the Hmeimim Airbase using these armed drones, despite their low success rate.

The Russian military had repeatedly warned the jihadist rebels against launching these attacks; however, they have become a monthly occurrence.

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روسيا بين القيصريّة والسوفياتيّة على متن قطار الشرق الأوسط!‏

 د. وفيق إبراهيم

الاقتراع الروسي لصالح التعديلات الدستورية الأخيرة في دولتهم تختزن إصراراً شعبياً كبيراً على عودة بلادهم إلى التعددية القطبية!

هذا هو المضمون الفعلي لتأييدها من 78% من المواطنين الروس مقابل اعتراض 21% على تعديلات دستورية تُحدث تطويراً في القيم والمؤسسات، وشارك فيها 65% من مجمل شعوب روسيا، هذا رقم كبير في عالم الديمقراطيات الغربية لا تجب مقارنته أبداً بالاستفتاءات العربية التي تعطي رئيس البلاد 99% فقط! وتصل المخابرات ليلها بالنهار بحثاً عن 0.1% تغيّب عن الانتخابات شديدة الشكلية.أما السؤال القابل للمعالجة، فيتعلق بكيفية الربط بين هذه التعديلات ومكانة روسيا العالمية، علماً أنها لا تتطرق إلى هذا الأمر بشكل علني.أولاً تجب الإشارة إلى أن هذه التعديلات لها جانب كبير يتعلق بتعميم القيم الوطنية والولاء للمؤسسات وحقوق المواطن وأدواره في الدفاع عن بلاده سياسياً واجتماعياً واقتصادياً وصولاً إلى الدفاع الوطني.لكن جانبها «الكوني» يرتدي لبوس تعديلات دستورية تسمح للرئيس الروسي البقاء في ولايتين رئاسيتين متتاليتين ابتداء من تاريخ إقرار هذه التعديلات.وهذا يؤدي إلى «تصفير» العداد الرئاسي السابق وإعادة فتحه بموجب هذه التعديلات الجديدة على ولايتين رئاسيتين مدتهما اثنتي عشرة سنة.

وبما أن ولاية الرئيس الروسي الحالي فلاديمير بوتين تنتهي في 2024 أي بعد عشرين سنة من تنقله بين مجلس رئاسة الوزراء في بلاده، ورئاسة الجمهورية، فيكون بوتين مرشحاً لحكم روسيا 32 سنة متواصلة تشبه حكم القياصرة شكلاً والسوفياتية لناحية المضمون الاستراتيجي الذي يريد انتزاع دور عالمي يماثل الشكل السوفياتي إنما بمضمون معاصر يقترب من العالم الغربي.

من الواضح إذاً أن هذه التعديلات تخدم مباشرة التمديد لبوتين بآليات انتخابيّة ميزتها أنها قابلة للتجديد والتمديد.

فلماذا يريد الشعب الروسي بتنوعاته القومية والعرقية فتح الطريق أمام مَن يعتقدون أنه «بطل روسيا»؟

يقول التحليل التاريخي إن انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي في 1989 عكس التراجع الروسي المخيف بدءاً من الثمانينيات لانخراط الاتحاد السوفياتي في حروب تسلح وفضاء ودعم لمدى جيوبوليتيكي واسع.. منفرداً.. مما أدى إلى سقوط هذه الظاهرة الجيوبولتيكية الهامة التي أدت دوراً محترماً في عرقلة الهيمنة الأميركية على العالم منذ الخمسينيات وحتى أواخر الثمانينيات من القرن العشرين إنما بشكل نسبيّ طبعاً.

لكن روسيا وريثة السوفيات، استسلمت بين 1990 تاريخ إعادة تأسيسها وحتى مطلع القرن العشرين للهيمنة الأميركية وصولاً إلى حدود التبعية الكاملة لها، وهي المرحلة التي تسلم الرئاسة فيها بوريس يلتسن الذي قضى عهوده الرئاسية معاقراً للفودكا إلى حدود السكر والاغتراب عن هموم بلاده، حتى أصبحت روسيا في عداد الدولة المعدومة التأثير ومتراجعة اقتصادياً على مستوى الداخل ولا يهمها تلك التغيرات الجيوسياسية التي اتخذها الأميركيون لتطويقها في أوروبا شرقية كانت متحالفة معها، وإبعادها نهائياً عن الشرق الأوسط وجنوب شرق آسيا ورفع مستوى تناقضاتها مع أوروبا.

هذا ما تسلّمه بوتين في 2004 في رئاسة الوزراء ورئاسة البلاد، إلا أنه لم يقبل بهذه الوضعية الروسية المتقهقرة، فبنى خطة بدأت بتمهيد وضعية سياسية موالية لفكرة استنهاض روسي بمدى جيوبولتيكي، وهذا دعاه للتوطيد السياسي وإعادة دعم الممكن من الاقتصاد المنهار خارجياً. اعتبر يلتسن أن تحصين الحدود الروسية مع أوكرانيا «المتأمركة» وأوسينيا وبعض المناطق الأخرى بانياً شبكة أمان في جواره الإقليمي، لكنه سرعان ما أعاد الحيوية إلى علاقات بلاده بالصين على أساس اقتصادي بين البلدين وجيوبولتيكي خارجي للتعامل مع الحذر مع الهيمنة الأميركية.

للمزيد من التأمين الاقتصادي اخترق بوتين الحظر الأميركي على دور روسي في أوروبا، فأسس لمرور أكبر ثلاثة خطوط لأنابيب الغاز الروسي: واحد إلى ألمانيا مباشرةً عبر بحر البلطيق وآخر إلى أوكرانيا فأوروبا وثالث عبر البحر الأسود إلى تركيا فأوروبا أيضاً، مؤكداً بذلك على الدور المركزي الجيوسياسي للغاز الروسي في العالم، وهذا اختراق كبير للجيوبولتيك الأميركي الذي كان يعمل على تطويق روسيا اقتصادياً واستراتيجياً لمنعها حتى من مجرد التفكير والحلم بالقطبية العالمية.

لم يكتف بوتين بهذه الإنجازات بعد تأكده من عجزها عن استرداد الدور العالمي لبلاده.

هنا نراه أعاد تجديد دور قاعدة حميميم الروسية المنصوبة على الساحل السوري منذ زمن السوفيات.

لذلك كان الغبار يعتريها وتكاد تجسد ذكريات سابقة عن جيوبولتيك سوفياتي منهار.هنا نجح بوتين باتفاقات تمهيديّة مع إيران وحزب الله من تحويل حميميم إلى دور روسي عسكري وسياسي كبير بالتعاون العميق مع الدولة السورية.لقد بدت الحركة العسكرية الروسية في سورية واسعة النطاق وحاربت إلى جانب الجيش السوري وحلفائه على كامل الأرض السورية حتى أنّها نفذت مئة وعشرين ألف غارة جوية في مختلف المناطق من دون احتساب القصف المدفعي والصاروخي والعمليات البرية.لقد ظهرت مرامي بوتين من خلال إمساكه بآليّة أستانة وسوتشي مع الأتراك والإيرانيين وبمهادنته السعودية لأسباب تتعلق بضرورات التنسيق في أسواق النفط. فاتحاً علاقات مع العراق والجزائر ومصر محاولاً البحث عن عناصر للعودة إلى اليمن من بوابة العثور على اتفاق بين أجنحته المتقاتلة، مقدماً للبنان عروضاً في الاقتصاد والتسلّح وحاملاً معه إلى ليبيا ذكريات سوفياتية كانت على علاقات جيدة مع القذافي.

يتضح بذلك أن بوتين الممهّد لأدواره المتواصلة في رئاسة روسيا حتى العالم 2036 يتمتع بتأييد شعبي قوي، يؤهله لأداء دور قيصر أو حاكم سوفياتي بصلاحيات إمبراطورية، يريد العودة إلى الشرق الأوسط لأهداف تتعلق بحرصه على العودة إلى النظام القطبي المتعدد، بما يؤهله لتنظيم علاقات اقتصادية مع العرب والمسلمين وتوريد أسلحة لبلدان الشرق الأوسط والمساهمة في التنافس على الغاز في البحر الأبيض المتوسط، بذلك يجد الأميركيون أنفسهم مضطرين لتسهيل ولادة نظام قطبي جديد، يجسد فيه بوتين الروسي دور النجومية لأهمية بلاده من جهة وإمكاناته الشخصية المنسقة مع أدائه في المرحلة السوفياتية دور ضابط مخابرات ناجح.

Militants Launch Massive Drone Attack On Russian Airbase In Syria

Source

Late on June 22, Russian air defense units repelled a massive drone attack on Russia’s Hmeimim air base in Syria. According to local sources, Russian Pantsir and Tor systems launched almost two dozen missiles at unmanned aerial vehicles launched by militants from the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone. Syria’s state-run news agency SANA reported that Syrian air defenses were also activated in the Jableh area of Latakia province, where the Russian airbase is located.

Firefights between the Syrian Army and Turkish-led forces broke out near the village of Abu Rasin in the province of al-Hasakah. According to pro-government sources, the fighting erupted when Turkish-backed militants tried to set on fire crops being grown in nearby fields.

Earlier, the Damascus government accused pro-Turkish forces of intentionally burning crops in the area of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring and nearby areas in order to pressure farmers that do not want to pay bribes to pro-Turkish militants.

The Turkish Army and the Russian Military Police regularly conduct joint patrols along the contact line between Turkish-backed forces and the Syrian Army in northeastern Syria. This allows to prevent the sides from initiating large-scale offensive operations against each other. However, the situation on the ground remains tense.

On June 22, pro-government locals blocked a US military convoy near the village of Fares Kabir in the Syrian province of al-Hasakah. The protesters burned a US flag and forced the convoy to retreat from the area. Positions of the Syrian Army near Kafr Mus, Kawkabah and as-Safah in southern Idlib came under fire from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies early on June 23. Pro-militant sources claim that several army troops were either injured or killed.

On June 21, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement released a new video threatening Israel with a retaliation strike on its strategic facilities in the event of a new escalation.

“Today, we can not only hit the city of Tel Aviv but also, if God wills it and with His help, we can hit very precise targets within Tel Aviv and anywhere in occupied Palestine,” Nasrallah can be heard as saying during the video.

Israel is pretty sensitive towards such threats and uses them to justify the continuing military campaign against Iranian-backed forces.

In its own turn, Hezbollah often intensifies its propaganda efforts against Israel as the situation in the region is once again heading to a military confrontation or its leadership expects possible Israeli hostile actions that would impact its interests.

PROSPECTS OF TURKISH-RUSSIAN MILITARY CONFLICT IN SYRIA

Dear friends, during the past 2 weeks, there were signals of the growing confrontation between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as well as the intensifying coordination between Turkey and Russia in Greater Idlib.

See Video here



The region of Greater Idlib remains the main source of tensions in Syria.

The March 5th ceasefire deal reached by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow allowed an end to be made to the open military confrontation between the Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian Army. However, as of mid-April, the main provisions of the deal have yet to be implemented. Members of al-Qaeda-linked groups still enjoy freedom of movement across Greater Idlib and keep their positions with weapons and heavy equipment in southern Idlib.

The safe zone along the M4 highway, the creation of which was agreed, has not been created. All Russian-Turkish joint patrols have been conducted in a limited area west of Saraqib and have just been a public move needed to demonstrate that the de-escalation deal is still in force.

Ankara turns a blind eye to regular ceasefire violations and other provocative actions by militant groups and their supporters. Additionally, it has continued its military buildup in Idlib. The number of Turkish troops in the region reportedly reached 7,000, while the number of so-called ‘observation posts’ exceeded 50. Meanwhile, Turkish-affiliated media outlets ramped up a propaganda campaign accusing the Assad government of killing civilians, of ceasefire violations, of using chemical weapons and of discrediting the de-escalation agreement by calling it the surrender of the goals of the so-called Syrian revolution.

On the diplomatic level, neither Turkey nor Russia demonstrate open antagonism, but statements coming from the  top military and political leadership of Turkey regarding the conflict in Syria demonstrate that Ankara is not planning to abandon its expansionist plans or aggressive posture towards the country.

These factors set up a pretext for and increase the chances of a new military escalation in Idlib. However, this time the conflict is likely to lead to at least a limited military confrontation between the Turkish and Russian militaries. Both sides have troops deployed in close proximity to the frontline, including the expected hot point of the future escalation – Saraqib.

Possible phases of escalation are the following:

  1. Without the full implementation of the Moscow de-escalation deal and neutralization of radicals, the military situation in southern and eastern Idlib will continue to deteriorate. Militants, inspired by their impunity and the direct protection of the Turkish Army, will increase their attacks on the positions of Syrian forces and their Russian and Iranian allies. These attacks will gradually increase in scale until they provoke a painful military response from the Syrian Armed Forces. Militants, surprised at this blatant ceasefire violation by the bloody Assad regime, will continue their attacks, now justifying them by the right of self-defense. G_4 (A) Turkish diplomats and media outlets will immediately accuse the Assad government of violating the word and spirit of the de-escalation deal and will claim that the “unjustified aggression of the regime”, which is supported by the Russians, led to the killing of dozens of civilians and will film several staged tear-jerkers from Idlib to support this. The so-called ‘international community’ led by the Washington establishment and EU bureaucrats will denounce the aggression of the Assad regime and its backers.
  2. In the face of the continued and increased attacks from Idlib armed groups, the Syrian Army will have two options:
  • To retreat from their positions and leave the hard-won, liberated areas to the mercy of Turkey and its al-Qaeda-affiliated groups;
  • To answer the increased attacks with overwhelming force and put an end to the ceasefire violations by radicals.

It’s likely that the Syrians will choose the second option. The military standoff in Idlib will officially re-enter a hot phase. The previous years of conflict have demonstrated that militants cannot match Syrian troops in open battle. Therefore, if the Turkish leadership wants to hold on to its expansionist plans, it will have no choice but to intervene in the battle to rescue its proteges. Syria and Turkey will once again find themselves in a state of open military confrontation.

  1. As in previous escalations, the Turkish military will likely opt to start its military campaign with massive artillery and drone strikes on positions of the Syrian Army along the contact line in southeastern Idlib and western Aleppo. Special attention will be paid to the area of the expected confrontation between Syrian troops and Turkish proxies: the countryside of Saraqib, Maarat al-Numan and Kafr Nabel. Turkish forces will not be able to stop the Syrian Army advance without taking massive fire damage to their infrastructure and to the forces deployed in these areas. Such strikes will also result in  further escalation because they will pose a direct danger to the Russian Military Police in Saraqib and Maarat al-Numan, and to Russian military advisers embedded with the Syrian units, which are deployed in southeastern Idlib.
  2. If Turkish strikes target Russian positions and lead to notable losses among Russian personnel, Moscow will be put in a situation where they will be forced to retaliate. Since the start of the military operation in Syria in September 2015, the Russian Armed Forces have concentrated a capable military group in the country protected by short- and long-range air defense systems and reinforced by Bastion-P coastal defense and Iskander-M ballistic missile systems. Additionally, the Russian Black Sea and Caspian Fleets and Russian long-range aviation have repeatedly demonstrated that they are capable of destroying any target on the Syrian battleground and thus also in any nearby areas.

The Russian retaliatory strike will likely target Turkish military columns in close proximity to the frontline as well as Turkish depots, positions of artillery, armoured vehicles, and material and technical support points in Greater Idlib.

Prospects Of Turkish-Russian Military Conflict In Syria

If, after the Russian strike, the Turkish leadership does not halt its aggressive actions and its forces continue attacks on Russian and Syrian positions in Syria, the escalation will develop further.

The second wave of Russian retaliatory strikes will target Turkish military infrastructure along the border with Syria. HQs and logistical hubs in the province of Hatay, which were used to command and supply its Operation Spring Shield, will immediately be destroyed. The decision to deliver strikes on other targets along the border will depend on the success of Turkish forces in their expected attempt to attack Russia’s Hmeimim airbase and put it out of service.

Prospects Of Turkish-Russian Military Conflict In Syria
Prospects Of Turkish-Russian Military Conflict In Syria

Prospects Of Turkish-Russian Military Conflict In Syria
Prospects Of Turkish-Russian Military Conflict In Syria
Prospects Of Turkish-Russian Military Conflict In Syria

Another factor to consider is that should Turkey appear to be too successful in their attack on the Hmeimim airbase, they risk losing their entire Black Sea fleet. While theoretically the Turkish naval forces deployed in the Black Sea are superior to the Russian ones in numbers, the real balance of power there tells a different story. The combined means and facilities of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Caspian Sea fleet, air forces and coastal defense forces deployed in the region would allow Moscow to overwhelm and sink the entire Turkish Navy. On top of this, Russia, unlike Turkey, is a nuclear power.

Turkey’s NATO allies have already demonstrated that they are not planning to risk their equipment or personnel in order to support Erdogan’s Syrian adventure. Furthermore, a new round of complaints to the UN or demonstrative sanctions will be no help to any destroyed Turkish airbases or to a fleet resting deep underwater.

Ankara will have to find a diplomatic way to de-escalate the confrontation before it gets to this point. The format of this diplomatic solution and the consequences, which Turkey will have to suffer for its military adventure, will depend only on the moment, when the Erdogan government understands that it’s time to stop.

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China would open fire to force US aircraft to change course from Syrian coast: media

By News Desk -2020-05-03

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:10 P.M.) – A Chinese news agency said the Russian military’s decision to intercept two U.S. aircraft along the Syrian coast would have ended differently if it was their air force involved.

“According to reports, the Russian military stationed in Syria discovered an air target approaching its military base in Syria on April 19 above the neutral waters of the Mediterranean Sea, after which a Su-35 fighter belonging to the air defense forces of the Russian Khmeimim Airbase took off,” China’s East Day News Agency began.

They continued: “Takeoff was made to identify the target, intercept and escort the U.S. military aircraft, designated as the P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft. After changing course, the Russian fighter returned to base.”

“Coincidentally, on April 15, a Russian Su-35 fighter over the eastern Mediterranean Sea also intercepted the P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft. It was an ‘intimate contact.’ After the incident, the U.S. protested against Russia, accusing them of violating international law,” East Day News said.

However, the publication argued that if it had been the Chinese Air Force, their pilots would have also intercepted the aircraft and likely opened fire to warn it to change change.

“Our pilots would have done the same, and if the American military plane flew up to the borders of China, they probably would have opened fire to warn them – this would have discouraged them from provoking for a long time ,” the East Day article added.

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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.

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – SEPTEMBER 5, 2019: SYRIAN ARMY PREPARES SECURITY OPERATION IN WESTERN ALEPPO

South Front

Late on September 3, Idlib militants carried out an attack on Russia’s Hmeimim Airbase with armed unmanned aerial vehicles. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the airbase’s air-defense forces intercepted all the UAVs. The attack caused no casualties or damage at the airbase.

The attack took place just a few days after the start of the ceasefire in the Idlib zone on August 31. It demonstrates that despite diplomatic efforts by the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance, Idlib militant groups are not very interested in a real de-escalation in the region.

On September 4, the Suqour al-Sham Brigades accused Russian special forces of attacking positions of its fighters near Ejaz in southern Idlib. The militant group said that two its members were killed and seven others were injured.

Last week, at least sixteen militants of the Ahrar al-Sham Movement were killed in southern Idlib in a similar mysterious development. That militant groups also blamed the Russians.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are preparing to launch a military operation to secure Aleppo’s city center, according to reported in local media. Several units of the SAA and 1,500 Iranian-backed fighters will reportedly take part in the operation that would target militants’ positions in the districts of al-Zahra and al-Rashidin, north and northwest of the city.

Over the past year, militants in al-Zahra and al-Rashidin have fired hundreds of rockets and mortars on Aleppo’s city center, killing and injuring dozens of civilians. They even attacked the city with chlorine gas last November.

The SAA is expanding its infrastructure at the T4 airbase in the province of Homs, according to reports and satellite images appearing online. The images show that the length of the airbase’s southern runway is being expanded from 3,200 m to 3,750 m. A third runway is also apparently being built.

Pro-Israeli sources link this development with the growing Iranian presence in the country. Iran uses the T4 airbase as one of the sites involved in drone operations across Syria.

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Russian Warplanes Rain Hell On Idlib

South Front

March 15, 2019

On March 13, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces delivered a series of airstrikes on infrastructure of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the city of Idlib and in its southeastern countryisde. According to reports, at least 16 strikes hit weapon depots, HQs and a jail belonging to the terrorist group.

Opposition sources said that hundreds of prisoners, including dozens persons allegedly linked with the Syrian and Russian intelligence managed to escape the prison after the airstrike. Hayat Tahir al-Sham responded with a wide-scale security operation to trace and capture these people. This operation is still ongoing with varying results.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the strikes in Idlib and said that they were coordinated with Turkey. According to the Russian side, the strikes hit depots in which the terrorist group was storing armed unnamed aerial vehicles. The eliminated UAVs were reportedly prepared for an attack on Russia’s Hmeimim airbase.

Despite comments about the coordination with Turkey, in the following days Turkish pro-government and state media released multiple reports accusing the Russians and the Assad government of causing casualties in Idlib.

On March 13, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that they had uncovered an alleged Hezbollah network in the Golan Heights. The network named by the IDF as “the Golan File” was reportedly led by Hezbollah operative Ali Musa Daqduq on the Syrian side of the contact line in order to prepare attacks on Israel.

The IDF stressed that Daqduq has been a Hezbollah member since 1983. During this period, he reportedly occupied various important posts and was even involved in an attack on a US military base in Iraq’s Karbala in 2007.

The IDF described the alleged Hezbollah network as a serious threat and threatened both Damascus and the Lebanese party with consequences.

On the same day, Israel’s ImageSat International released satellite images showing an alleged Iranian missile compound in Syria. The missiles manufacturing site is reportedly located in Safita.

Regardless of real facts besides these claims, this series of reports looks as a coordinated media campaign. According to experts, its main goal is to justify further Israeli military actions against supposed Iranian targets in Syria and to continue the militarization of the occupied Golan Heights.

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