Syria & Iraq Launch Operations Against ISIS In Border Area

South Front

Members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party have four times shelled positions of the Syrian Army in the provinces of Lattakia and Hama over the past 24 hours, the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria reported. At the same time, according to the Russian side, Turkish-controlled armed groups did not violate the ceasefire regime.

Despite this, the situation on the contact line between government forces and militants remains tense. The M4 highway is still blocked by supporters and members of radical militant groups.

On April 14, the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces kicked off a security operation against ISIS in the countryside of the town of al-Sukhna on the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor road. The operation came as a response to recent ISIS attacks on army positions in the Homs desert, which resulted in several days of intense fighting between government troops and terrorists.

However, according to pro-government sources, it is unlikely that the efforts of the government forces will change the security situation in eastern Syria in any significant manner. To carry out attacks, ISIS is using small mobile groups that enjoy freedom of movement through the US-occupied area of al-Tanf on the Syrian-Iraqi border, where the US-led coalition and its proxies are fiercely opposing any anti-terrorism efforts by the Syrian Army. On several occasions in previous years, US-led coalition aircraft even struck Syrian convoys, which had allegedly moved too close to the US-controlled zone. ISIS terrorists moving through al-Tanf, however, do not seem to be causing such deep security concern to the US military and political leadership.

A day earlier, Iraqi government forces launched their own security operation against ISIS cells in the province of Anbar on the border with Syria. According to official statements, the operation is ongoing in the areas of Wadi al-Ghari, Wadi al-Awja and Wadi al-Malisi.

Another anti-ISIS operation is currently ongoing in the province of Diyala. It was launched on April 11 and involves the 20th, 23rd and 110th Brigades of the Popular Mobilization Forces as well as several units of the Iraqi Army. The main efforts are focused on the countryside of Sherk Zur.

According to ISIS’ newspaper al-Naba, the terrorist group killed 66 government fighters and civilians in Iraq in the first week of April alone. While this number could be overestimated, regular ISIS attacks on military and civilian targets in western Iraq are an open secret.

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Syrian Army Pounding ISIS Cells In Homs Desert. Turkey Fortifies Positions Near Saraqib

South Front

The military situation in northwestern Syria is steadily escalating.

On April 10 and April 11, the Turkish Army and its proxies shelled positions of Kurdish armed groups in northern Aleppo. The most intense shelling took place near the areas of Tell Rifaat, Sheikh Hilal, Bosoufane, al-Malikiyah, Maraanaz, Kaft Anoun, Kasht’ar, al-Irshadiyah and Menagh Air Base.

On April 12, the Kurdish-led Afrin Liberation Forces announced that they had stricken a position of the Turkish Army near in the area of Sherava in the same part of Syria with an anti-tank guided missile. According to the Kurdish group, 3 Turkish soldiers were killed and 3 others were injured. 2 vehicles of Turkish forces were allegedly destroyed.

Both Turkish forces and Kurdish armed groups claim that their attacks are retaliatory strikes only and accuse each other of regular acts of aggression and terrorism.

The Russian Military Police is reportedly working to establish four new observation posts near the town of Tell Tamr in Syria’s northeast. According to local sources, Russian forces have already checked the area and are now preparing to establish permanent positions near al-Abush, Umm Kayf, Abu Rasin and Zirkan.

Kurdish sources claim that this move is a forced measure needed to put an end to regular ceasefire violations by the Turkish Army and its proxies. Despite these claims, the Turkish-Russian ceasefire deal on the operation of Turkey’s Operation Spring Shield still works successfully preventing a resumption of large-scale hostilities in the region.

In southern Idllib, the Turkish Army is fortifying its positions near the contact line with Syrian forces near the town of Saraqib. According to the Syrian Army, at least 50 Turkish vehicles entered the region of Greater Idlib on April 12 only. Pro-government sources describe such actions as a signal that the Turkish military is not planning to fight against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Idlib, but rather preparing for a new round of confrontation with the Syrian Armed Forces.

On April 11 and April 12, intense artillery duels between the Syrian Army and Turkish proxies were reported near the town of al-Bara in southern Idlib and Hdadah Hilltop in northern Lattakia. Later, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) claimed that its forces had repelled a Syrian Army attack in the vicinity of the town of Kafr Taa in western Aleppo. Militants claimed  that an officer of pro-government forces was killed. Pro-Damascus sources reported no notable clashes in the area, but such claims by Idlib armed groups are a useful signal of the current level of tensions in the region. Greater Idlib is steadily moving towards the resumption of full-scale military hostilities.

The Syrian Army and its allies fully repelled ISIS attacks near al-Sukhnah and Wadi al-Waer in the province of Homs killing two dozens of terrorists, according to pro-government sources. Clashes in the area broke out last week after ISIS cells conducted a large attack on positions of Syrian troops involved in a security operation in the area. Pro-militant sources claim that up to 40 Syrian soldiers were killed in the confrontation with the terrorists.

Currently, the army is deploying reinforcements to the countryside of al- Sukhnah. Most likely, government forces are planning to conduct a new security operation against ISIS cells hiding in the desert.

Military Situation In Syria On April 13, 2020 (Map Update)

Military Situation In Syria On April 13, 2020 (Map Update)

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Syrian Women Recount Stories of Their Kidnapping by ISIS Terrorists

ST

Sunday, 15 March 2020 18:13 

“The holy blood of the Syrian Arab Army’s martyrs won’t go in vain. Every drop of my husband’s blood when he was slaughtered savagely by ISIS terrorists in the northern countryside of Lattakia province because he was one of the Syrian  Army personnel is a source of pride, hope, strength and steadfastness,” Mrs. Hasna Issa said in a statement to the Syriatimes e-newspaper on the sidelines of an event held by “Assawari” Civil Society Association in Lattakia province  marking  International Women’s Day ( IWD)  and Mother’s Day.

She underlined  that  the worst and most brutal massacres were carried out by terrorists in the northern countryside of Lattakia.

 “I will not forget that day when I and my three little children witnessed the slaughtering of my husband. When my five-year old son saw his father lying on the ground  covered with his blood, he threw stones at the terrorists, who then tied the child to a tree and started torturing him by burning his body with a hot iron rod,” Mrs. Issa added with her eyes full of tears and sadness.

 She went on to say “My children and I spent four years as hostages of the ISIS terrorists. We witnessed unspeakable violence of physical and mental suffering.”

“During those long days of detention we were close to death every minute as we were  cruelly  tortured  but I felt the prayers of the whole world fortified my inner peace and strength” Mrs. Issa made it clear.

A bright smile lit up her face when she said “I believe that the merciful God always finds a way to help everyone and we were liberated thanks to the hero Syrian Arab Army.”

Mrs. Issa described her imprisonment as an extraordinary experience  that  provided  her with more strength and determination to stay steadfast and overcome all the difficult circumstances like other distinguished Syrian women.

On her part, Mrs. Reema Khalil, and elderly lady in her eighties, told Syriatimes that “when ISIS terrorists stormed our village in the countryside of Lattakia, they destroyed our houses, burnt our lands, kidnapped a lot of families and slaughtered a number of innocent citizens.”

“One of my sons was martyred in Aleppo and the other was martyred by an explosive bomb that targeted his home in the village. His wife and his two children, Haidar and Hala, were kidnapped by the terrorists,” Mrs. Khalil said .

She added that after two years of kidnapping, her grandson Haider was released by the Syrian Arab Army, but no information has surfaced about his kidnapped mother.

The grandma added that her granddaughter Hala was sent by the terrorists to Turkey for organ trafficking, but a faithful Syrian lady managed to bring Hala back to Syria.

“Hala returned to live with me and her brother Haider, but unfortunately  she has got an injury by a gunshot in her lower jaw and now she finds difficulty in talking”, Mrs . Khalil said .

The patient grandma, who is alone looking after Hala and Haider, said the children miss their mother and hope to see her again.

Syrian Women’s unbreakable will

In turn , Head of “ Assawari” Civil Society Association Mrs. Afnan Blal asserted that the Syrian women have sacrificed much during the Syrian crisis as many of them have lost their loved ones including parents, husbands, brothers and children as martyrs because of terrorism, yet the Syrian women never stopped to play their role in defending their homeland and supporting the army in its battle against terrorism.

Mrs. Blal confirmed that the association is a support initiative that seeks alleviating women’s suffering from the crisis and providing assistance to affected women who fled the crimes of terrorist groups in several provinces.

She highlighted the fact that Mrs. Asama Al-Assad, Syria’s First Lady,  is the role model for all Syrian women as she is the symbol of steadfastness, strength, hope and determination.

Interviewed by : Rawaa Ghanam

Photos by :  Rawaa Ghanam

Turkish President Erdogan Urges Greece to ‘Open the Gates’ to Migrants

Migrants gather in Edirne, near the Turkish-Greek border on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Thousands of migrants headed for Turkey's land border with Greece after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government said last week that it would no longer prevent migrants and refugees from crossing over to European Union territory.
Turkey announced last month that it could no longer restrain the flow of refugees from Syria, and opened its borders. Following this decision, taken amid tensions in Syria’s Idlib province, thousands of migrants have been attempting to enter Greece through Turkey. Police and army units have been deployed to the border.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Greece to “open the gates” to migrants.

“Hey Greece! I appeal to you… open the gates as well and be free of this burden. Let them go to other European countries,” President Erdogan said during a televised speech in Istanbul.

He added that he will travel to Belgium on Monday for talks with the European Union.

“I hope I will return from Belgium with different outcomes,” Erdogan said.

The Turkish coast guard said on Saturday that Erdogan had ordered that they bar refugees from crossing the sea border with Greece due to a threat to their security.

Greek-Turkish border crisis

The situation with migrants at the Greek-Turkish border escalated in late February after Ankara announced it had opened its border with the European Union to migrants and refugees following the recent increase in tension in the Syrian province of Idlib. Soon after, tens of thousands of migrants rushed to Turkey’s border with Greece and Bulgaria to attempt to get into Europe.

Turkish police stand by migrants camping in Edirne near the Turkish-Greek border
© AP PHOTO / EMRAH GUREL
Turkish police stand by migrants camping in Edirne near the Turkish-Greek border

According to Turkey, one of the reasons it has opened its borders to the EU was the lack of assistance from the bloc in dealing with the flow of migrants. Under the 2016 agreement between the two, Ankara promised to restrain the flow of migrants into the bloc, with Brussels pledging to provide funds to help Turkey care for the refugees.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed on a ceasefire in Idlib. Two parties also agreed to create a security corridor six kilometres (3.7 miles) north and south of the M4 highway in Syria, which connects the provinces of Latakia and Aleppo.

اليوم الأول من هدنة إدلب: التزام لا يبدّد الشكوك

سيّرت القوات الروسية والتركية دوريات مشتركة قرب سراقب على الطريق الدولي (M4) (أ ف ب )

سوريا 

الأخبار 

السبت 7 آذار 2020

في اليوم الأول من وقف إطلاق النار في إدلب، شهدت خطوط التماس التزاماً شبه كامل بالتهدئة، فيما خلت سماء المنطقة من أيّ تحليق لطائرات حربية أو مسيّرة، توازياً مع تسيير القوات الروسية والتركية دورية أولى قرب مدينة سراقب. في هذا الوقت، تتالت المواقف الدولية المُرحّبة بالاتفاق الأخير بين موسكو وأنقرة، في ظلّ تشكيك في الوقت نفسه في قدرته على الصمود، على رغم اعتبار الجانبين السوري والروسي أن الاتفاق «يمكن أن يساعد في تهيئة الأجواء لإعادة إطلاق العملية السياسية»، وفق ما تمّ التأكيد أمس في المباحثات الهاتفية بين الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، ونظيره الروسي فلاديمير بوتين. وفيما هنّأ بوتين الأسد بالإنجازات المتحقّقة أخيراً، مطلِعاً إياه على فحو المباحثات مع أنقرة، عبّر الأسد عن ارتياحه لما أنجزته موسكو، و«ما يمكن أن يحمله من انعكاسات على الشعب السوري… في حال التزام الجانب التركي به»

غابت الطائرات الحربية الروسية والسورية، بالإضافة إلى المسيّرات التركية، عن سماء منطقة إدلب أمس، فيما شهدت خطوط التماس كافة هدوءاً حذراً، تخلّلته خروقات بسيطة في الساعات الأولى، عقب دخول وقف إطلاق النار حيّز التنفيذ منتصف ليل الخميس – الجمعة. الهدوء الميداني انسحب أيضاً على المواقف الدولية، إذ رحّبت الأمم المتحدة وبعض العواصم الغربية بالاتفاق الروسي – التركي، الذي تظلّ الشكوك قائمة في قدرته على الصمود لفترة طويلة، وخصوصاً أنه لم يعالج مسائل أساسية تتعلّق بالتنظيمات الإرهابية، وأزمة النازحين، والسيطرة على أجواء إدلب.
وفي اليوم الأول من وقف إطلاق النار، سيّرت الشرطة العسكرية الروسية مع القوات التركية دوريات مشتركة بالقرب من مدينة سراقب في ريف إدلب الجنوبي الشرقي، على طريق حلب – اللاذقية الدولي (M4)، فيما أفادت وكالة الأنباء السورية الرسمية «سانا» بأن «الهدوء ساد محاور العمليات»، مؤكدة في الوقت نفسه أن «وحدات الجيش جاهزة للردّ بقوة على أيّ محاولة خرق من قِبَل التنظيمات الإرهابية». من جهتها، شدّدت المتحدثة باسم وزارة الخارجية الروسية، ماريا زاخاروفا، خلال مؤتمر صحافي، على ضرورة «القضاء على التنظيمات الإرهابية في سوريا، وموقفنا ثابت حيال ذلك»، مشيرة إلى أن «اتفاق وقف الأعمال القتالية في إدلب يجدّد التأكيد على مواصلة محاربة الإرهاب بكلّ أشكاله»، مؤكدة أن «لسوريا كامل الحق في القضاء على التنظيمات الإرهابية على أراضيها».

بومبيو: تركيا تمتلك حقاً كاملاً في حماية مصالحها في الأراضي السورية

في المقابل، نقل مكتب الرئيس التركي، رجب طيب إردوغان، عنه قوله إن «مراكز المراقبة العسكرية التركية في إدلب السورية ستحتفظ بوضعها الحالي ضمن اتفاق وقف إطلاق النار» الذي أبرمته أنقرة مع روسيا. كما نقل عنه أن «الاتفاق وضع الأساس لإعادة الأوضاع في المنطقة إلى طبيعتها». واعتبر وزير الخارجية الأميركي، مايك بومبيو، من جانبه، أن تركيا «تمتلك حقاً كاملاً في حماية مصالحها في الأراضي السورية، بالنظر إلى ما يفعله هناك كلّ من (الرئيس السوري بشار) الأسد وروسيا وإيران»، لافتاً إلى أن إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب «تدرس حالياً خيارات لدعم تركيا في سوريا»، في ظلّ تقارير حول توجيه أنقرة إلى واشنطن طلباً للمساعدة. لكن الرئيس التركي كان قد قال، في وقت سابق أمس، إنه «كان بوسع الولايات المتحدة إرسال دعم عسكري إلى تركيا من أجل إدلب لو أنه لم يتمّ إبرام اتفاق وقف إطلاق النار يوم الخميس، لكن لم يتمّ إرسال أيّ دعم بعد»، مكرّراً أن تركيا «ستقوم الشهر المقبل بتفعيل أنظمة الدفاع الروسية إس-400 التي اشترتها من موسكو على رغم احتجاج واشنطن»، مضيفاً أنه «طلب أيضاً شراء أنظمة باتريوت الأميركية».
من ناحية أخرى، أعلنت الرئاسة التركية أن الاتفاق المبرم بين أنقرة وموسكو لا يقضي بتراجع تركيا عن قرارها فتح الحدود أمام المهاجرين الراغبين في التوجّه إلى الاتحاد الأوروبي، مشدّدة على أن هذا الاتفاق «لا يغيّر حقيقة عدم إيفاء الاتحاد الأوروبي بوعوده»، في إطار اتفاق الهجرة المبرم بين أنقرة وبروكسل عام 2016. واعتبر مصدر في الرئاسة التركية أن «السياسة الخارجية التركية حقّقت نجاحاً جديداً بما يتماشى مع المصالح القومية للبلاد»، موضحاً «(أننا) حافظنا من جانب على مصالحنا الوطنية من خلال إيقاف موجات هجرة غير نظامية جديدة آتية من سوريا، ومن جانب آخر جعلنا دول الغرب، وعلى رأسها الولايات المتحدة، تساندنا». ولفت المصدر إلى أن اتفاق موسكو «لا يشكل عائقاً أمام دعم الاتحاد الأوروبي والولايات المتحدة لتركيا»، داعياً إلى اتخاذ «خطوات في سبيل زيادة الثقة، بما فيها نشر أنظمة دفاعية وتطوير التعاون الاستخباراتي بين أنقرة والغرب». وحذّر المصدر من أن «أكثر من ثلاثة ملايين مدني لا يزالون موجودين في إدلب، ولذلك لا يزال خطر هجرتهم غير الشرعية نحو تركيا مستمراً».
بدوره، أمل الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، أنطونيو غوتيريش، أن يؤدّي الاتّفاق إلى «وقف فوري ودائم للعمليات القتالية، بعدما تَحمّل السكان معاناة هائلة». ورحّب «برنامج الأغذية العالمي» كذلك بالاتفاق، منتقداً في الوقت نفسه عدم تضمّنه إرساء «منطقة آمنة للنازحين المدنيين». في المقابل، رأت الرئاسة الفرنسية أن «توافق الروس والأتراك حول إدلب لم يترسّخ جيداً بعد»، واصفة ترتيبات الطرفين «حول المسائل الإنسانية والسياسية» بأنها «غير واضحة».

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Russian and Turkish troops begin patrols along M-4 Highway: video

By News Desk -2020-03-06

Russian and Turkish forces were seen driving on the M4 highway, just outside Saraqib in Idlib province on Friday, following a ceasefire agreed between Syrian government forces and Turkish-backed forces, secured by Moscow and Ankara.

Footage shows the vehicles proceeding down the road near the city, which was reportedly liberated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) earlier this week after being the scene of intense fighting between the SAA and Turkish-backed forces.

The ceasefire, which came into force at midnight, was reached during talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow.

On Thursday, the two leaders discussed the situation in Idlib and agreed to create a security corridor around the M4 highway which links Latakia and Aleppo.

Credit: Ruptly

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Turkey’s Failure to Adhere to Past Deals Puts New Ceasefire in Question – Syrian Ambassador

Sputnik

10:34 GMT 06.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Imad Moustapha, Syria’s current ambassador to China and former ambassador to the United States, told Sputnik on Friday that Ankara’s failure to fulfil some of its commitments under the 2018 Russian-Turkish memorandum on a demilitarised zone in Syria’s Idlib casts doubts on the validity of the newest ceasefire in the province.

“Erdogan’s track record regarding the Sochi and Astana agreements indicates that he has never honoured his commitments before. It is very difficult to presume that this time will be different,” Moustapha said when asked whether he expected the agreement on the ceasefire to be fulfilled by Turkey.

The ambassador went on to say that the only solution to the ongoing conflict in northern Syria would be for Turkey to withdraw its forces.

“As for the security corridor, we have to see if the joint patrols will be able to guarantee the free circulation of the Syrian people along the M4 from Aleppo to Latakia and return. Only time can tell if this is going to work or not”, Moustapha added.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed on a ceasefire in Idlib, which started at midnight. The sides also agreed to create a security corridor six kilometres (3.7 miles) north and south of the M4 highway in Syria, which connects the provinces of Latakia and Aleppo.

Turkish flag is seen rising over town of Saraqib, Syria's Idlib Governorate
© SPUTNIK / BASEL SHARTOUHTurkish flag is seen rising over town of Saraqib, Syria’s Idlib Governorate

Fighting in Idlib escalated last week after jihadists carried out an operation against Syrian government troops. This prompted retaliatory attacks, after which the Turkish military said that more than 30 of its soldiers had been killed. The Russian Defence Ministry said that those troops were, for reasons unknown, among the terrorists when they got caught in Syria’s return fire.

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برود غربي حيال مناشدات أنقرة: الجيش السوري على مشارف «M4»

الأخبار 

السبت 29 شباط 2020

بات الجيش السوري على مقربة من طريق حلب – اللاذقية من جهة أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي (أ ف ب )

تابع الجيش السوري عملياته في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، حيث تَمكّن من السيطرة على عدد من القرى والبلدات، بالغاً مشارف الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4). في هذا الوقت، تَصاعد التجاذب الروسي – التركي على خلفية مقتل عشرات الجنود الأتراك في ريف إدلب الجنوبي أول من أمس، فيما أتى التفاعل الغربي مع مناشدات أنقرة دعمها في الشمال السوري بارداًفي ظلّ ردّ تركي وُصف بـ«الهزيل» على مقتل أكثر من ثلاثين جندياً تركياً بغارات جوية روسية – سورية في إدلب أول من أمس، تابع الجيش السوري تقدمه في منطقة سهل الغاب في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، حيث سيطر على قرى خربة الناقوس والمنصورة وتل واسط والزيارة والمشيك وزيزون الجديدة وقسطون، ليصل إلى مشارف الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4)، والذي باتت تفصله عنه كيلومترات قليلة فقط، فيما يفصله عن مدينة جسر الشغور الاستراتيجية أقلّ من 10 كم. وتهدف العمليات العسكرية في أقصى ريف حماة الشمالي الغربي، وريف إدلب الجنوبي، إلى الوصول إلى الطريق المذكور، ووصله بالطريق الدولي حلب – حماه، علماً أن الطريقين يلتقيان في مدينة سراقب الاستراتجية جنوب شرق مدينة إدلب، والتي أعاد المسلحون السيطرة عليها فجر يوم الأربعاء، وقطعوا بذلك الطريق الدولي «M5». ولم تفلح محاولات الجيش السوري، منذ ليل الخميس – الجمعة، في استعادة السيطرة على المدينة؛ إذ انطلق عبر محورَي تل الشيخ منصور والدوير، من دون أن يحرز تقدّماً.

في غضون ذلك، وفي إطار الردّ التركي على مقتل الجنود الأتراك في بلدة بليون في ريف إدلب الجنوبي، قصفت المدفعية التركية نقاطاً ومواقع للجيش السوري في اللاذقية وحلب وإدلب. وطال القصف بلدتَي نبل والزهراء شمالي حلب، ومواقع للجيش في أرياف إدلب الجنوبية والشرقية. ونشرت وزارة الدفاع التركية مقطع فيديو يظهر، بحسبها، استهداف تلك المواقع، فيما اكتفت دمشق بتصريح لمصدر في وزارة الخارجية، قال فيه إن «الجيش لن يسمح للدول الغربية ووكلائها بتأبيد سيطرة الإرهابيين في سوريا». وأضاف المصدر أن الجيش «سيستمرّ في تنفيذ مهامّه المتمثلة في إنهاء الوجود الإرهابي في كلّ أنحاء سوريا». في هذا الوقت، برزت مساعٍ دبلوماسية روسية لتخفيف الاحتقان، وتجنّب أيّ صدام مباشر مع أنقرة، على رغم مشاركة القوات الروسية في غالبية عمليات القصف الجارية في إدلب. وكانت أرسلت موسكو، عقب اشتداد التطورات في إدلب، وفداً إلى أنقرة للاجتماع بالمسؤولين الأتراك. وأعلنت وزارة الخارجية التركية، أمس، أن تلك المحادثات انتهت، وأن «الوفد الروسي في الطريق إلى بلاده». وأشارت الوزارة إلى أن المسؤولين الأتراك أبلغوا الوفد الروسي «ضرورة تطبيق وقف دائم لإطلاق النار فوراً في إدلب»، و«ضرورة انسحاب قوات الحكومة السورية إلى الحدود المقرّرة في اتفاق خفض التصعيد المبرم عام 2018 بين تركيا وروسيا».

بوتين وإردوغان قد يلتقيان الأسبوع المقبل في موسكو

في غضون ذلك، أعلن الكرملين، أمس، على لسان المتحدث باسمه ديمتري بيسكوف، أن «الرئيسين الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، والتركي رجب طيب إردوغان، قد يلتقيان الأسبوع المقبل في موسكو». وكان بيسكوف أعلن، في وقت سابق، أن بوتين بحث مع أعضاء مجلس الأمن الروسي الوضع في إدلب، مشيراً إلى أن «الجانب التركي لم يبلغنا بوجود العسكريين الأتراك في أماكن تجمّع الإرهابيين»، مضيفاً أن «الجنود الأتراك قتلوا خارج نطاق نقاط المراقبة». وجدّد القول إن «القوات التركية فشلت في السيطرة على أعداد كبيرة من المسلحين ومنع أعمالهم العدائية تجاه المواقع الروسية»، متابعاً أن روسيا «اتخذت جميع التدابير اللازمة لضمان أمن تركيا على طول الحدود السورية التركية». في المقابل، أعلن البيت الأبيض أن الرئيس الأميركي، دونالد ترامب، ونظيره التركي، اتفقا في اتصال هاتفي على «ضرورة وقف النظام السوري وروسيا وإيران للهجمات في إدلب». وجدّد ترامب، في خلال الاتصال، «تأكيده دعم جهود تركيا لخفض التصعيد في شمال غرب سوريا وتجنب كارثة إنسانية». كذلك، أعلنت الرئاسة التركية أن أردوغان «أبلغ ترامب باستعداده لدفع الجيش السوري إلى المواقع المحدّدة في اتفاق سوتشي».

وعلى رغم مناشدة أنقرة حلفاءها في «حلف شمال الأطلسي» دعمها، فقد اكتفى «الحلف» بالتعبير عن تضامنه معها، من دون أن يقدّم تعهّدات بإجراءات جديدة للدفاع عن القوات التركية. وقال الأمين العام للحلف، ينس ستولتنبرغ، إن «الحلفاء وافقوا على المحافظة على الإجراءات القائمة حالياً لتعزيز قدرات تركيا الدفاعية الجوية». بالتوازي مع ذلك، ردّت المفوضية الأوروبية على التهديدات التركية بفتح الحدود أمام اللاجئين السورييين للتدفق نحو أوروبا، بإعلانها أن الاتحاد يتوقّع من تركيا «احترام تعهّداتها الواردة في الاتفاق الهادف للحدّ من تدفق المهاجرين من سوريا»، وفق ما قال المتحدث باسم المفوضية بيتر ستانو . أما الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، أنطونيو غوتيريش، فقد اعتبر أن وقف إطلاق النار في إدلب «هو الحاجة الأكثر إلحاحاً الآن قبل خروج الوضع عن السيطرة»، واصفاً استهداف القوات التركية بـ«أكثر اللحظات إثارة للقلق خلال فترة الصراع في سوريا». ومن المنتظر أن يعقد مجلس الأمن الدولي اجتماعاً طارئاً لمناقشة التصعيد الأخير في سوريا، وفق ما ذكر دبلوماسيون.

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Are Russia and Turkey on a collision course?

THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 28, 2020 

[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]

The murder of the Iranian hero-martyr General Soleimani created a situation in which a war between Iran and the Axis of Kindness (USA/Israel/KSA) became a real possibility but, at the very last minute, Uncle Shmuel decided that he had no stomach for a full-scale war against Iran. Wise decision.

This, however, does not at all imply that the AngloZionist Empire decided to stand by idly, far from it. The need to take quick and determined action became particularly acute following the huge anti-US demonstrations in Iraq (well over one million people in the streets!) which directly put at risk the US occupation (the MSM would call it “presence”) in both Iraq and Syria.

At the same time, Turkish President Erdogan’s refusal to remove all the “bad terrorists” from the Idlib province eventually resulted in a joint Syrian-Russian offensive to liberate the province. That offensive, in turn, clearly infuriated the Turks who warned of a major military operation to prevent the Syrians from liberating their own country.

This begs the question: are Russia and Turkey really on a collision course?

There are certainly some very worrying warning signs including a number of very harsh statements by Erdogan himself, and a suddenly re-kindled Turkish interest for the US “Patriots”.

On the ground in Idlib, the Turks have clearly provided the “bad terrorists” with a lot of support including equipment, MANPADs, tanks and armored personnel carriers. The Turks actually went as far as sending special forces to assist the “bad terrorists” directly. Finally, from footage taken by Russian and Syrian drones, and even the “bad terrorists” themselves, it appears undeniable that Turkish MLRS and regular artillery provided the “bad terrorists” with fire support.

Both sides also agree that a number of Turkish personnel were killed (they only disagree on how many and what these Turks were doing in Syria).

Finally, and most ominously, there is even a video circulating on the Internet which appears to show a US “Stinger” being fired by the “bad terrorists” at a Russian aircraft which, thank God, managed to evade it (unlike 2 Syrian Army helicopters which were shot down).

So the first conclusion that we can come to is that the Turks are already engaged in combat operations against the Syrians. For the time being, these combat operations are just below the threshold of “credible deniability”, but not by much. For example, if the Turks had shot down a Russian aircraft you can be pretty certain that the Russian public opinion (which has still not forgiven Erdogan for the downed Su-24) would have demanded that the Russian Aerospace Forces massively retaliate (just as they have every time Russian military personnel have been killed) kill scores of Turks.

The Russian position is very straightforward. It goes something like this:

The Turks committed to remove all the “bad terrorists” from the Idlib province, leaving only the “good terrorists” who are committed to a ceasefire and a political peace process in place. That did not happen. In this case, the Syrians clearly have to do themselves what the Turks refused (or could not) do. The Russian military presence in Syria, and the Russian military operations, are all absolutely legitimate and legal: the legitimate government of Syria invited the Russians in, and the UNSC agreed to back the Syrian peace process. Thus the Russian Aerospace Forces’ strikes against the “bad terrorists” are absolutely legal. Furthermore, Russia very much deplores the presence of regular Turkish units among the “bad terrorists” which is both illegal and very unhelpful. Finally, the Russian Aerospace forces have no way to determine who sits in which tank, or who provides artillery cover for the operations of the “bad terrorists”. Thus, if Turkish military personnel are killed in Syrian or Russian operations, this would be entirely the fault of Ankara.

So far the Turkish military operation has been rather unsuccessful and limited.

But Erdogan is now promising a major attack.

Will that happen and what can the Turks really do?

First and foremost, Turkey does not have the means to enter into a full-scale conflict with Russia. Turkey cannot do that for political, economic and military reasons:

Political: the simple truth is that Turkey (and Erdogan) desperately need Russian political support, not only towards the West, but also towards Iraq, Iran or Israel. Furthermore, Erdogan has now clearly deeply alienated the Europeans who are fed up with Erdogan’s constant threats to open the “refugees” spigot. As for the Turks, they have already known for years that the EU will never accept them and that NATO will not support Turkey in its (very dangerous) operations in Iraq and Syria.

Economic: Turkey’s economy really suffered from the sanctions introduced by Russia following the shooting down of the Russian Su-24 by Turkish aircraft (backed by USAF fighters). What was true then is even more true now, and the Turkish public opinion understands that.

Military: the past years have been absolutely disastrous for the Turkish armed forces which were purged following the coup attempt against Erdogan. This sorry state of affairs is indirectly confirmed by the very poor performance of Turkish forces in Syria.

What about a conflict limited to Syria?

Again, Turkey is in a bad position. For one thing, the Syrians and, even more so, the Russians control the airspace above Idlib. The Turks are so frustrated with this state of affairs that they have now reportedly asked the US to deploy Patriot missiles in southern Turkey. This is a rather bizarre request, especially considering that Turkey purchased S-400s from Russia or how pathetically the Patriots actually performed (recently in the KSA and elsewhere before that). This, by the way, might well be a case of fake news since, apparently, there are no Patriots available for Turkey even if the US agreed to sell.

Then there is the bellicose rhetoric we hear from Erdogan. For example, he recently declared that:

“The regime, backed by Russian forces and Iran-backed militants, are continuously attacking civilians, committing massacres and shedding blood, (…) I hereby declare that we will strike regime forces everywhere from now on regardless of the [2018] deal if any tiny bit of harm is dealt to our soldiers at observation posts or elsewhere.”

That kind of language is, of course, very dangerous but, at least so far, the Turkish operation has been both limited and unsuccessful. Syrian President Assad was not impressed and declared that:

It also means that we must not rest idle, but prepare for the battles to come. As a result, the battle to liberate the Aleppo and Idlib countryside continues regardless of some empty sound bubbles coming from the north (vain threats from Erdogan), just as the battle continues to liberate all of Syrian soil, crush terrorism and achieve stability.

In the meantime, in Iraq, the US has apparently dug-in and categorically refuses to leave. In practical terms this means that the Iraqis will have to step up their anti-US campaign both politically (more protests and demonstrations) and militarily (more IEDs, convoy attacks and, probably soon, drone, cruise missile and ballistic missile attacks on US targets in Iraq). I don’t believe that the US will be able to sustain that kind of pressure in the mid to long term, especially not in an election year (which promises to be hellish anyway). Right now, the Idiot-in-Chief seems to think that threatening Iraq with “very big sanctions” is the way to restore good relationships. In reality, all this will do is to further inflame anti-US feelings in Iraq and the rest of the region.

Then there is the tactical situation. Please check these two maps: (click on map for a higher resolution)

The part in red shows the government controlled areas. The light blue (or light green on the 2nd map) show the Turkish deployment. The part in olive green (or darker green on the 2nd map) shows the parts of the Idlib province which are still under Takfiri occupation. Finally, the small region around Tell Rifaat are controlled by the Kurds.

The Syrian forces, backed by Russia, have now pushed back the latest Turkish+Takfiri attack north and west of Aleppo and they are now attacking the southern tip of the Takfiri occupation zone around the Zawiya mountain and highlands, see here:

The Syrians have options here. They can either gradually push north, or they can try to envelop the Takfiri forces in a “cauldron”. Finally, the Syrians would score a major victory if they succeeded in regaining control of the highway between Aleppo and Latakia (in blue on the map).

As for the Turkish-backed Takfiris, they are pushing very hard towards Idlib, so far with only moderate and temporary successes (they typically take a location at hugecost in lives and equipment and then cannot hold on to it as soon as the Syrians and Russians bomb the crap out of their newly conquered positions).

All of this is taking place while Syrian, Russian, Turkish and US patrols are regularly meeting, often in rather tense situations which could quickly escalate into a firefight or, even worse, an open battle. There is also the risk of an incident in the air since these four nations also conduct air operations over Syria. And, just like in the case of the ground operations, Syrian and Russian air operations are legal under international law, Turkish, US or Israeli operations are not and constitute an act of “aggression” (n.b: the highest crime under international law).

So far, the various negotiations between the parties have not yielded any result. This might change on March 5th when a conference on Syria attended by Turkey, Russia, France and Germany will meet (probably in Istanbul) to try to find a negotiated solution. Considering that Turkish soldiers are killed every day and already that 2 Syrian helicopters have been shot down, this might be too late to avoid an escalation.

I will conclude here by posting a (minimally corrected) machine translation of a Russian translation of a text originally written by a Turkish political commentator and translated into Russian by a Telegram channel: (emphasis added)

Russia’s strategy from the very beginning was to return full control of Syrian territories to Assad. And Moscow was implementing its plans, getting closer to the goal step by step. As long as Damascus will not take Idlib, the operation will continue. You don’t need to be an expert in this field to understand this. This is obvious. Someone says that Erdogan’s trip to Ukraine played a role in the offensive operations of Damascus. In fact, this visit is the result of the Syrian army’s offensive. The Turkish President went to Kiev just after tensions rose between the Turkish armed forces and the Russian side. Erdogan is in Ukraine made statements that have caused irritation in Moscow.

Turkish diplomacy was at an impasse. We discussed for a long time that you can’t put all your eggs in one Russian basket. And they said: we will buy the S-400, build a nuclear power plant, and develop tourism. And Putin was made a hero in our country. And now the defense Secretary is talking about buying American patriot air defense systems. And the President is talking about acquiring Patriot. “We did not succeed with Russia, we will get closer to the United States” – this is not how foreign policy is done. We need consistency in foreign policy. It is not appropriate for a country with a strong military power to change sides between world powers once a week.

What we are still discussing these days: we need to get closer to Europe and the US against Russia. These discussions worry our entrepreneurs who work with Russia. The tourism sector is concerned. Without Russian tourists, our tourism sector cannot fill all the volumes and make a profit. We have not yet been able to resolve these issues, and we are discussing a clash with Russia. Let’s remember what happened after Turkey shot down a Russian plane. Our tourism sector could not recover for two years. What to expect from a military clash. We have to talk about it.

The goal of our state: to live in peace on our land, and keep all the troubles away from yourself, while doing this to attract new troubles – this is not an indicator of a good military strategy or a well-thought-out diplomatic strategy. Everyone should understand this.

The risk for Erdogan is obvious: in case of a serious confrontation with Russia (and Syria AND Iran, don’t forget them!), the consequences for Turkey might be severe, resulting in a sharp rise in anti-Erdogan feelings in Turkey, something he can hardly afford.

And that brings us to the current US/NATO/CENTCOM posture following the assassination of General Soleimani I mentioned in the beginning of this article. The risks of a quick and dangerous escalation involving the US and Iran are still extremely high. The same can be said for the risks of a resumption of anti-US attacks by Iraqi Shia forces. Then there are the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Yemen, which Uncle Shmuel probably would prefer to end, but has no idea how. In these countries a rapid escalation could occur at any time, especially following Iran’s officially declared goal to kick the US out of the Middle-East. And now, there is a risk of major escalation between Turkey, Syria and Russia: such an escalation would have a major potential to suck in the US forces in the region, even if nobody does so deliberately (or if the Iranians do that very deliberately).

Right now Uncle Shmuel is busy with a strategic PSYOP trying to get Russia and Iran into a conflict (see this propaganda piece for example). That will not work, as both the Russians and the Iranians are waaaaaaay too savvy to fall for such primitive things. The US also tried to instigate riots inside Iran, but they quickly petered out (as did the rumors about the US deliberately shooting down the Ukrainian airliner).

The Middle-East is impossible to predict, it is too complex and there are too many possible factors which influence the situation. Still, my guess is that the March 5th conference, assuming it takes place, will force Erdogan to back down and re-pledge his commitment to bringing back security to the Idlib province. That is, as far as I can see, the only way for Erdogan to avoid an embarrassing military defeat with possibly very serious political consequences.

Conversely, should there be an open clash between Turkey and Syria+Russia, then I don’t see NATO intervening to back Turkey. At the most, the US/NATO can send forces to “protect” Turkey and equipment, but in both cases these would not be effective (the problems of the Turkish military are too big to be solved by such mostly symbolic actions). While some more rabid countries (Poland, Netherlands, UK and, of course, the USA) might be tempted to get a major NATO action going against Syria and, through that, against Russia, the mentally saner EU countries have exactly zero desire to end up in a war against Russia, not over the Ukraine, and not over Syria.

Thus while Erdogan is desperately trying to pit the US against Russia, this will not work, especially since this latest pro-US “zag” will only further alienate Iran (and the rest of the region). I predict that after the March 5th conference, Erdogan will be forced to resume his “friendship” with Putin and basically cave in.

If that does not happen, for whatever reason, an escalation will be pretty close to inevitable.

PS: Colonel Cassad (aka Boris Rozhin) has published on his blog an interesting article which looks at a theory which, apparently, is popular in the Middle-East and Russia. This theory says that what is taking place is a gigantic show, a deception, in which both Russia and Turkey appear to be at odds, but in reality are working hand in hand to disarm the Takfiris and exchange territory. Here are, in his opinion, the possibly indications of such a collaboration: (machine translated and minimally corrected)

  1. After some formalities, Turkey resumed joint patrols with the Russian military in Rojava, which is carried out in a routine manner.
  2. Russia has increased the quota for the supply of Turkish tomatoes to Russia despite the fact that Russia threatened to block the supply of Turkish tomatoes.
  3. US did not give Turkey patriot missile, which was described in the Turkish media referring to anonymous sources in the Turkish government. No actual support from the United States and NATO, Turkey has not received.
  4. Despite the fact that the SAA was not going to stop the offensive and continued to surround the Turkish observation points, Turkey has effectively given Assad’s carte blanche for all of February, stating that no major combat operation will be initiated before the beginning of March.
  5. The main chain of the new observation points were deployed by Turkey to the North of highway M-4. The southern direction is not actually strengthened. Attempts to cover the Kafr will Sagna or Kafr Nabl were not undertaken, although this is more important points than Nairab.
  6. The bulk of the Pro-Turkish militants were drawn to Idlib and Carmine, while the southern front was actually exposed for Assad there is a situation of maximum favour for liberation dozen cities and towns.
  7. The battle of Niravam turned into a week-long meat grinder, where the militants engaged in stupid frontal assaults against Syrian positions with heavy losses but capturing Neirab, there is virtually nothing on the operational level, they did not win – losing people and most importantly – time.
  8. The Russian and Turkish military keep all channels of communication and exchange information, including on the movement of Turkish columns. The Russian military help to supply the surrounded Turkish observational points in the rear of Assad.
  9. Moscow and Ankara have repeatedly stressed that not to seek a military conflict with each other, preferring to seek resolution of disputes through diplomatic means.

And Rozhin adds:

Why all this may be part of a backroom deal? Because such a scenario would allow Turkey to look like a defender of Idlib, which is in strong opposition to the plans of Assad and Putin. At least visually. As for Assad and Putin, they can claim to have liberated part of the Idlib province. The battle of Niravam in this logic allow Erdogan to save face before “in the interests of peace and security,” to sign a new deal with Russia with a new line of demarcation, which officially has already been discussed at negotiations in Moscow on 17-18 February. Officially, the Turks rejected it. But it’s official. And if we assume that the agreement already exists and this just fixed sight 5 March, while Assad released another piece of Idlib and the militants “An-Nusra” will be partially disposed in the battles with the SAA in Idlib and in the southern frontal attack on the front under Niranam. In favor of this version may indicate the previous experience of transactions between Russia and Turkey, when Ankara loudly growled at Assad, but de facto did not prevent the Assad regime to clean up the enclaves and win the battle for Aleppo. Against this version can play what the Turks themselves are suffering losses in manpower, and further concessions to Russia may undermine Erdogan’s positions in Idlib, so he tries to bargain.

I personally doubt this version, if only because this is a very tricky and dangerous way to get things done, and because of the many threats and even ultimatums Erdogan is constantly spewing. A more likely explanation for all of the above is that 1) the Takfiris are desperate and are running out of steam and 2) the Turks are afraid of a serious confrontation with Russia. Rozin concludes:

I think that by March 5 the question of whether there is was a secret deal or not will finally be clarified, since Erdogan’s threats are all focusing on early March, at which point he will have to either attack or chose to play the role of peacemaker, which “diplomatically” stopped the advance of Assad.

Here I can only agree with him.

الجيش في جبل الزاوية من بوابة كفرنبل

سوريا سوريا الأربعاء 26 شباط 2020

أسقط الجيش طائرة مسيّرة تركية من طراز «ANKA» في قرية داديخ (أ ف ب )

تتسارع خطوات الجيش السوري نحو الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4)، في ظلّ تحقيقه إنجازات هامّة في جبل الزاوية الاستراتيجي، كانت آخرها السيطرة على بلدة كفرنبل. في هذا الوقت، تتواصل المشاورات الروسية – التركية من دون أفق واضح، في ظلّ إصرار موسكو على دعم مضيّ الجيش في عملياتهمنذ انطلاق العمليات على محور جبل الزاوية قبل يومين، سيطر الجيش السوري على نحو 20 بلدة في الجزء الشرقي من الجبل، غربي الطريق الدولي (حلب ــ حماة) بين خان شيخون ومعرّة النعمان، وكانت آخرها وأهمّها كفرنبل، التي دخلها مساء أمس. وخلال ساعات فقط، أحكمت قوات الجيش، تحت غطاء مدفعي وجوي، السيطرة على بلدات حاس ومعرتماتر وبعربو وحزارين وبسقلا، غربي معرّة النعمان. كما أسقطت طائرة مسيّرة تركية عالية التقنية من طراز «ANKِA» في سماء قرية داديخ، كانت تؤمن دعماً استخبارياً للفصائل العاملة تحت لواء أنقرة، على هذا المحور. وتزامن التحرك على هذه الجبهة مع اشتباكات شهدها محيط سراقب الغربي، إثر محاولة الفصائل المدعومة بالمدفعية التركية التحرك من بلدة النيرب باتجاه ترنبة، بهدف الوصول إلى تماس مباشر مع أحياء سراقب الغربية. وشهدت البلدات المحيطة بخطوط التماس وامتدادها شمالاً نحو بنّش ومعرّة مصرين، قصفاً جوياً مكثفاً، طاول عدّة أحياء في مدينة إدلب أيضاً. كذلك، شاركت وحدات من الجيش التركي في تمشيط أحياء بلدة النيرب إلى جانب الفصائل التي تديرها، تحضيراً لهجمات أوسع باتجاه سراقب، وهو ما كرّس تركيز أنقرة على هذا المحور، في وقت تشهد فيه جبهات ريف إدلب الجنوبي انهياراً لافتاً لدفاعات الفصائل.

شكّكت موسكو وانقرة في احتمالات انعقاد قمة «رباعية»

الإنجاز الهامّ الذي حَقّقه الجيش في جبل الزاوية سيتيح له استكمال العمليات بسرعة نحو الطريق الدولي حلب – اللاذقية (M4)، وسط غياب أفق واضح للمشاورات الروسية – التركية التي يُفترض استكمالها اليوم، عقب وصول مرتقب لوفد روسي إلى تركيا، في جولة هي الثالثة من نوعها منذ بدء العمليات العسكرية الأخيرة. ولا تبدو فرص توافق الوفود على صيغة بديلة مرتفعة، خاصة وأن احتمالات عقد قمة رباعية، روسية تركية ألمانية فرنسية، باتت ضعيفة، وفق ما صدر عن موسكو وأنقرة خلال اليومين الماضيين. إذ أشار المتحدث باسم الكرملين، ديمتري بيسكوف، أمس، إلى أن ما يجري نقاشه حالياً هو «اجتماع متعدّد الأطراف… ولكن ذلك لا يعني مشاركة فرنسا وألمانيا»، في تلميح إلى أن الحديث هو عن اجتماع لثلاثيّ «أستانا» الضامن، روسيا وإيران وتركيا. ونفى بيسكوف أن يكون قد تمّ التوافق بالكامل على هذا الاجتماع، بالقول إن «القرار لم يُتّخذ بعد… الجهود مستمرة من خلال القنوات الديبلوماسية». التشكيك في عقد «الرباعية» خرج من الرئيس التركي، رجب طيب أردوغان، أيضاً، إذ قال إنه «لا اتفاق كاملاً» بين الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون والمستشارة الألمانية أنغيلا ميركل من جهة، والرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين من جهة أخرى، على ذلك. وأضاف أنه «في أسوأ الحالات» يمكن أن يعقد اجتماعاً ثنائياً مع الرئيس الروسي، وهو ما نفاه الكرملين ضمناً، إلا في حال تمّ على هامش «ثلاثية أستانا».

وفي انتظار بيان نتيجة تلك الجهود، رفض وزير الخارجية الروسية، سيرغي لافروف، بوضوح، الدعوات إلى وقف عمليات الجيش السوري المدعومة من موسكو في شمال غربي سوريا، معتبراً أن ذلك سيكون بمثابة «استسلام للإرهابيين». وقال، في حديث أمام مجلس حقوق الإنسان في الأمم المتحدة في جنيف، إن وقف الهجوم لن يكون «مراعاة لحقوق الإنسان، بل إنه استسلام للإرهابيين بل وحتى مكافأة لهم على أفعالهم». واتهم لافروف بعض الحكومات بأنها «ترغب بتبرير أعمال شنيعة ارتكبتها جماعات متطرفة وإرهابية»، مضيفاً أنه «بخلاف ذلك سيكون من الصعب تفسير التحذيرات من إمكانية إبرام اتفاقات سلام مع قطاع طرق».

TURKISH-LED FORCES ARE FLEEING FROM SOUTHERN IDLIB. KAFR NUBL IS IN HANDS OF SYRIAN ARMY (MAP UPDATE)

ٍSouth Front

The tactical success of the Turkish Army and Turkish-backed al-Qaeda groups in Nayrab in eastern Idlib turned to be a total disaster for Turkish-led forces in the southern part of the province.

Following the large gains on February 24, on February 25 Syrian government troops liberated the villages of Hass, Kafr Nabl, Bisaqla, Ba’rabu, Qiratah, Sahab, Qa’uri and Deir Sunbol. Kafr Nabl was the main strong point of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in this part of the frontline. Its fall marks the collapse of the group’s defense in the area.

According to pro-government sources, in the coming days Syrian troops are planning to clear the area of Zawiyah Mountain and shorten the frontline on the administrative border between the provinces of Idlib and Lattakia. When this is done, the Syrian Army and its allies will be able to advance further towards the M4 highway.

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هل يرتكب أردوغان الحماقة؟

ناصر قنديل

خلال السنوات التي أعقبت إسقاط الطائرة الروسيّة بنيران الجيش التركيّ لا يبدو أن الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان قد استوعب القواعد التي تحكم مناورته في سورية، فهو مقيّد بحدّين لا يمكن التلاعب بهما ولا تغييرهما سواء بالعناد والتبجح والتهديد أو بالإنبطاح والتزلف، وهما: أن واشنطن غير مستعدّة هي وحلفائها في الناتو لمشاركته حرباً تكون روسيا طرفها الثاني، والثاني أن روسيا مستعدة لخوض غمار المواجهة إذا قرّر أردوغان شنّ هجمات على الجيش السوري. وهذا الحدّان دفعا بأردوغان في معركة حلب الأولى قبل أعوام، للتموضع سياسياً وأمنياً ضمن مسار أستانة، تجنباً لمواجهة يدرك عواقبها ويدرك أنه لا يستطيع الفوز بنتائجها، كما يدرك قبل كل شيء أن الشعب والجيش في تركيا لا يملكان أسباباً لمجاراته في التورّط فيها إن أراد.

حاول أردوغان استنفاد سنوات ما بعد أستانة، بالرهان على استئخار القرار الحاسم، والاحتفاظ بإدلب وأرياف حلب واللاذقية، مرة عبر فرضية صمود داعش طويلاً، ومرة بفرضية تجنب روسيا مساندة الجيش السوري في تحرير الجنوب ومخاطر التصادم مع الأميركي والإسرائيلي. ولما باءت رهاناته بالفشل وبدأت معركة إدلب وتوّجت بالانتصار الكبير الذي تعيشه سورية، كان يدرك سقوط رهان ثالث وهو صمود الجماعات الإرهابيّة التي زوّدها بالسلاح والعتاد، ودفع بجيشه إلى جانبها ليمنحها المعنويات، أملاً بصمود لم يتحقق.

مع تساقط مواقع جماعاته وتحقيق الانتصارات السوريّة، صار وجه أردوغان إلى الجدار، فراهن على ثنائية العناد والانبطاح. العناد بوجه روسيا والانبطاح لواشنطن، أملاً بتغيير الحدّين الثابتين اللذين حكما معركة حلب الأولى، آملاً بأن يردع عناده روسيا عن تقديم الإسناد اللازم للجيش السوري إذا تعرّض لهجوم تركي، وبأن يُغري الانبطاح واشنطن فتعلن استعدادها لمشاركته المعركة، تفادياً لخوضها دفاعاً عن قواتها التي سيأتي موعد مطالبتها بالانسحاب إذا فرض مثله على القوات التركيّة، فذهب يرفع سقوف التهديد والتحدي بوجه روسيا من جهة، ويقدّم التنازلات والإغراءات لواشنطن من جهة موازية. وجاءت الحصيلة واضحة، مزيداً من الثبات الروسي على خيار المواجهة، ومزيداً من التحفظ الأميركي تجاه أي تورط بمغامرة عسكرية.

المعادلة اليوم شديدة الوضوح وعلى أردوغان أن يقرّر، فترجمة التهديد بعملية عسكرية تستهدف الجيش السوري تهدّد بإشعال حرب سيكون الجيش السوري خلالها مستعداً لتقديم التضحيات الجسام دفاعاً عن سيادته الوطنية، وأظهرت التظاهرات العفوية ورشق الجنود الأتراك بالحجارة في مناطق السيطرة التركية حجم التعبئة النفسية التي يعيشها السوريون وصولاً للاستعداد للتضحية لمنع الاحتلال التركي من البقاء فوق أراضيهم، وسيكون حلفاء سورية بصور متنوّعة معها في هذه المواجهة، بين شراكة قوى المقاومة في الميدان، والدعم الإيراني من جهة، والدعم الروسي الناري من جهة مقابلة، وسيكون على أردوغان أن يتحمّل أمام جيشه وشعبه مسؤولية خراب كبير، قد يصل إلى تساقط الصواريخ في العمق التركي إذا تجاوز أردوغان الخطوط الحمراء لموضعيّة الاشتباك المفترض، والتزامه موضعيّة الاشتباك سيعني خسارته المحتّمة، حيث الجو سيكون روسياً، والأرض ستكون سوريّة.

أردوغان يرفع السقوف، ويفتح الباب موارباً للتفاهم آملاً الحصول على بعض المكاسب التي يستطيع تصويرها نصراً، خصوصاً لجهة ربط مصير مدينة إدلب بالحل السياسي، فيتحدث وزير دفاعه عن مناشدة الروس الحياد من المعركة التي يريد خوضها مع الجيش السوري لأنه لا يريد مواجهة معهم، ووزير خارجيّته يتحدّث عن الاتصالات المستمرّة بحثاً عن حل سياسي، والرئاسة تقول إنها لا تزال تدرس مشروع القمة الثلاثيّة التي دعت إليها طهران مع تركيا وروسيا.

أردوغان بين خيارين الآن، أن يرتضي تحوّل كلماته فقاعات، فيتراجع، أو أن يصير هو فقاعة تنفجر في تركيا بحماقة تنتهي بهزيمة محققة، وإن تحوّلت حرباً ستنهي حياته السياسية، وتاريخ أردوغان يقول إنه مراوغ، لكنه جبان.

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الدور التركيّ في مهب الريح الروسيّة

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تشتد الخلافات التركية – الروسية لتأخذ تدريجياً شكل صراع متدحرج يستخدم فيه طرفاه إمكاناتهما انطلاقاً من الميدان السوريّ ونحو أكثر من منطقة في العالم.

سبب هذا التدهور في العلاقات هو الهجوم الذي يشنه الجيش العربي السوري على منطقة إدلب السورية وتحتلها منظمات من هيئة تحرير الشام والاخوان المسلمين والتركمان والايغور واجناد القوقاز ونفر قليل من معارضات سورية بإشراف مباشر من قوات عسكرية تركية وبتخطيط من السياسات العثمانية لرئاسة أردوغان.

لماذا تتدهور هذه العلاقات بعد سنتين ورديتين كانتا تؤشران لمرحلة قريبة من التحالف بين انقرة وموسكو؟

منذ 2019 وحتى هذا التاريخ يواصل أردوغان التشبث بسياسات مماطلة يمتنع فيها عن سحب الارهاب من منطقة إدلب السورية، كما وعد في مؤتمرات سوتشي وآستانا.

فكان يعلن عكس ما يفعله، مستفيداً من الصراعات الروسية الأميركية السورية ومتذرعاً بخطر كردي مزعوم، حتى أن آخر وعوده كانت منذ شهرين فقط، إلا انه استمر في المماطلة حتى من دون تقديم أعذار مقبولة.

للإشارة فإن تركيا هي جزء من اتفاقات آستانا وسوتشي مع إيران وروسيا.

لذلك فإن الدولة السورية الملتزمة ببرنامج تدريجي لتحرير أراضيها المحتلة، تعرقلت عند خط محافظة إدلب بسبب الاحتيال التركي.

وكانت روسيا تضغط على السوريين لإرجاء تحركهم العسكري في محاولات تكررت اكثر من مرة لإعطاء تركيا مهلاً جديدة لسحب إرهابييها وآخرها في 2019 وسط تمسك تركي بالإخلال بالاتفاقات.

هذا جزء من الاسباب التي أملت على التحالف السوري الروسي الايراني تغطية هجوم ضخم للجيش السوري نجح فيه في السيطرة على نصف محافظة إدلب ومعظم ارياف حلب محرراً طريق أم 5 الذي يربط بين الشهباء ومعرة النعمان في إدلب الى حماة وحمص ودمشق والحدود الاردنية.

ويحتاج هذا الجيش للسيطرة على كيلومتر واحد قرب مدينة سراقب الإدلبية حتى يربط بين حلب وادلب واللاذقية في خط أم 4.

هذا اذاً نصر كبير واستراتيجي يضرب معظم الدور التركي في سورية الذي كان يمسك بمعظم خطوط الربط بين الشمال والشرق والشمال الغربي السوري.

ولأن هذا الهجوم متواصل يريد الوصول الى حدود إدلب مع تركيا وحدود اللاذقية مع ادلب وتركيا، فقد أصيب أردوغان بجنون مباغت لأنه استوعب عمق العلاقة بين هذه الهجمات والتراجع المرتقب للسياسات العثمانية في الإقليم انطلاقاً من خسارة ادلب باعتبار ان اللعب في الشرق السوري منهك لارتباطه بالصراعات الروسية الأميركية السورية والإيرانية والكردية والأوروبية.

كما ان الاحتلال التركي لأراض عراقية في شمال العراق ليس وازناً على المستوى الإقليمي.

لذلك ابتدأ الاتراك بتنفيذ ثلاث سياسات متزامنة: الاولى عسكرية وهي محاولة إيقاف تقدم الجيش السوري عند سراقب الإدلبية والاشتباك معه في أكثر من نقطة في الشرق الأوسط وأرياف حلب مع دفع الإرهاب لمهاجمة مواقع سورية بين حلب وادلب.

اما السياسة الثانية فهي تأليب الجماعات السورية الداخلية من إرهاب وفتن مذهبية وهجمات اعلامية تتحدث عن مجازر مفبركة ارتكبها النظام السوري في المراحل المنصرمة.

لكن السياسة الثالثة هي التي تكشف عن بدايات التصدع في العلاقة الروسية التركية لأن انقرة متأكدة من وجود قرار روسي يغطي الجيش السوري في هجماته الإدلبية وربما على مستوى أوسع من ادلب.

ونتيجة لهذا اليقين الأردوغاني الذي كان يأمل ايضاً وجود تسهيلات روسية لدور تركي في ليبيا ووجود تأييد سياسي وعسكري روسي للمشير حفتر المعادي للسراج حليف تركيا، حتى ان الإعلام الغربي كشف عن شركات قتال روسية موجودة في بنغازي مقابل كتائب الغرب، بما يؤكد أن هناك حرباً ليبية – ليبية تخفي بشكل شديد الشفافية حرباً تركية روسية واضحة.

هناك إذاً قتال بينهما في ليبيا وسورية على الرغم من العلاقات الاقتصادية العميقة بينهما، لأنهما مرتبطتان بخطين من الغاز الروسي ينتقل من البحر الأسود نحو تركيا الأول للاستهلاك الداخلي والتركي، فيما ينقل الثاني الغاز الى اوروبا. بالاضافة الى علاقات تبادل اقتصادي بعشرات مليارات الدولارات ونحو خمسة ملايين سائح روسي يجولون في الربوع التركية سنوياً.

هذه اذاً لعبة خطرة، فمقابل التقدم الاقتصادي هناك حرب في ليبيا وسورية قد تمتد الى أنحاء أخرى. فهل تنفجر العلاقات الاقتصادية ايضاً؟

الجنون الأردوغاني لا حدود له كما يبدو.

بدليل أنه استعمل حتى الآن وسائل سياسية معادية لروسيا تكاد تستنفد معظم الإمكانات التركية بدءاً من دعوته حلف الناتو لمنع السيطرة الروسية على سورية وحضه الاتحاد الأوروبي على أداء دور اكبر فيها.

ها هو يحث مسلمي روسيا على التمرّد على السلطة المركزية للكرملين مطالباً بإخراج الروس من جورجيا، فيبدو كالذاهب الى مرحلة اللاعودة مع الروس عندما يعلن أيضاً رفضه لضم روسيا جزيرة القرم الاوكرانية التي ضمتها روسيا منذ 2914.

فكيف استفاق اردوغان الآن واستغل زيارته الى عاصمتها كييف ليلتقي أيضاً بأحد قادة التركمان من سكان القرم ليشجعه على رفض ما أسماه «الاحتلال الروسي» ولم ينس اردوغان الداخل السوري. مسارعاً الى الجمع بين «الاخوان» والتركمان ومعارضات سورية متهالكة في جبهات موحّدة للتصدي للجيش السوري الى جانب القوات التركية.

انما ما يثير دهشة العثمانيين الجدد فهي أسباب تفضيل روسيا لسورية على تقاربها معهم.

فيتبين لهم أن الحلف الروسي السوري تاريخي لديه ابواب مفتوحة مع العراق واليمن وايران، وآسيا الوسطى، فيما ابواب تركيا مقفلة مع كل جيرانها العرب والأوروبيين والآسيويين.

كما يتضح لهم ان حرب الغاز المندلعة بين روسيا وتحالفاتها وأميركا وتحالفاتها لا تحتمل وجود مضارب تركي ثالث ينقب عن الغاز على متن الاخوان المسلمين في اليمن وليبيا وسورية وعقدته القومية الطورانية عند أتراك قبرص.

لذلك فإن الصراع الروسي التركي لن ينتهي إلا بتخلّي أردوغان عن جشعه العثماني واستيعابه بأن العثمانيين أصبحوا حقبة تاريخية ومنقرضة تستحيل إعادة بعثها من بين الأموات ومتاحف التاريخ؟

SAA Continues to Liberate ‘Every Inch;’ Helmets to Release Fake Chemical Video; Terrorists’ Sabotage, Abandoned Weapons

February 4, 2020 Miri Wood

The al Nusra White Helmets have finished a new chemical hoax video so that Trump will bomb Syria for alQaeda, again.

Syrian Arab Army units continue to fulfill President Assad’s promise to liberate every inch of Syrian soil, from NATO-sponsored pathogens. On 4 February, the SAA announced that the villages of Tal al Aghar, Tweil al Halib, Barissa, Hammadat, Um al Sharshouh and Tal Sultan, east of Saraqib, had been cleansed of what has rightfully been called the filthiest of the filth.

Also newly liberated is the al Nairab village north of the Aleppo-Lattakia International Highway. At this writing, the SAA is engaged in ground-to-ground battle with the savage terrorist gangs, near Kaddour and Rwaiha, southwest of Saraqib.

In the newly liberated area of Kafr Laha in the al Houla area of northern Homs countryside, the SAA discovered — surprise! — another huge cache of abandoned weapons and ammunition. The mostly NATO weapons found — and some found “inside a hole at one of the schools in Kafri Laha” — automatics rifles, sniper specialty rifles, mortars (bombs), rockets (bombs), and explosive devices (also bombs).

monsters-of-congress
Terrorists using schools to launch mortars against residential neighborhoods from it. [Archive. Original photo from schoolyard in Homs was recycled to schoolyard in Aleppo.]
may
‘Bombs, not books’ found in schools in liberated Aleppo. [2016]

Unfortunately, terrorist savages do not like to go willingly and dislike the loss of their weapons of slaughter, that cost the NATO taxpayer — especially the American NATO taxpayer, which Trump insists is overburdened — a heavy price, the cannon fodder of the NATO Empire showed its collective Captagon rage in new acts of bombing and sabotage.

At dawn on 4 February, the criminally insane terrorists used drone bombs and mortars to inflame the al Rayyan Gas Station, the South Central Region Gas Factory, the Ebla Gas Factory, and the Homs Refinery. These malignant actions meant to sever Syrians from essential energy needs, comes within days of unknown, highly trained spec operatives/mercenaries cutting the undersea pipelines in Baniyas.

Minister of Oil & Mineral Resources Engineer Ali Ghanem told the media that the terrorists continue to target the oil sector, and that these fires were quickly contained and extinguished. He noted that some damaged units are being assessed, but that technical cadres are mitigating the “damage to ensure the continuity of gas flow to the generation plants” and that “there will not be a large effect on the issue of the local market’s supplies.”

We have always noticed that terrorists launch attacks as a means to exert direct pressure, but we can get over that through using alternative plans, and they will not succeed in their schemes and we are able to overcome this crisis soon.

Oil Minister Ali Ghanem

THE RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY HAS ANNOUNCED THAT THE TERRORISTS OF THE SO-CALLED THE WHITE HELMETS ARE PREPARING TO PUBLISH A FABRICATED VIDEO ON A CHEMICAL ATTACK IN IDLIB.

On Monday 27 January, Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry dispatched a diplomatic letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres and to the head of the Security Council, reporting that another fabricated chemical attack is planned in the Idlib-Aleppo areaunder the direction of Turkey.

The NATO P3 dominated UN and the NATO stenographer journalists have all ignored that diplomatic letter, as they earlier ignored OPCW Inspector Ian Henderson’s statement to the Arria Formula process on 20 January.

Mr. Henderson stated there was no chemical attack in Douma.

— Miri Wood

For those not appreciative of having intelligence insulted, see ‘Rule of Nines’ in burn staging, here.

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Turkey’s Madman Erdogan Sends NATO Troops to Defend al-Qaeda Terrorists in Idlib

February 2, 2020 Arabi Souri

Erdogan sends NATO troops to defend al-Qaeda terrorists in Idlib

Turkish pariah Erdogan lost his mind and sends NATO troops into the Syrian province of Idlib to establish military checkpoints in front of the advancing Syrian Arab Army from the south to protect his defeated and collapsing al-Qaeda terrorists.

Even someone like Trump would stand down in such an event who had to stand down after Iran delivered its first slap and destroyed Ayn Alasad military base east of Iraq housing US troops avenging Trump’s killing of Iran’s top General Qasim Soleimani.

But Erdogan is on a very different level of madness, he has been a faithful servant to the same cult of Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush who indoctrinated him to ‘lead the Greater Israel Project in the region’.

The following report by Mohammad Al-Khodr of the Lebanese-based Al-Mayadeen news channel sheds more light, the video followed by the transcript of the English translation of the video:

Transcript of the English translation of the above video:

A Turkish movement on the ground tries to hinder the Syrian army’s advance on the fronts east of Idlib and southern Aleppo.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threats of a full-scale military operation in Idlib, was translated by his army as erecting a military post in Kafr-Ammem, east of Saraqib.

Another attack launched by the Turkish-backed ‘National Army’ on the Tadif axis in eastern Aleppo.

Safwan Korbi, member of the Syrian People’s Assembly for Idlib: I understand the shouting and I understand the noise and I understand the loud voice of Erdogan because the effects of the fall of Idlib and its return to the Syrian state will be disastrous for Erdogan inside Turkey first, especially in the presence of relations that I do not see at its best with Russia.

In western Aleppo, Noureddine Zanki’s militants entered the fronts of adults and Journalists District under Turkish supervision and with the approval of the Hay’at Tahrir Sham (al-Qaeda Levant aka Nusra Front).

Erdogan is pushing jihadist groups in a last-ditch attempt to stop the Syrian army’s surge on expanding fronts that allow militants to maneuver to the Turkish border.

An attempt that proved unsuccessful with the destruction of defense lines established by the militants over a period of 7 years.

Safwan Korbi, member of the Syrian People’s Assembly for Idlib: He will resort to his jihadist banner, which is to use extremist terrorist groups to try to disturb as much as possible the sound and loud advances of the Syrian Arab Army on the outskirts of Idlib province and Aleppo countryside.

The fighting between the Aleppo and Idlib fronts coincides with the large leaps achieved by the Syrian army east of Idlib as part of a broad goal of securing the international road between Aleppo and Damascus through Saraqeb and Ma’rat al-Numan.

It seems to have been resolved in the two dossiers of opening international roads between Aleppo, Damascus, Aleppo, and Latakia and eliminating al-Qaeda linked groups, and what is going on is nothing but the implementation of what was agreed in Sochi in 2018 by firepower after Turkish stalemating and attempting to buy time.

Mohammed al-Khader, Damascus- Al-Mayadeen

End of the transcript.

For 1.5 years Erdogan has failed to fulfill any of his commitments he pledged to Russian President Putin within the Sochi and Astana framework, leaving the Syrian Arab Army no choice but to clean the country by force from Erdogan (NATO) sponsored al-Qaeda terrorists.

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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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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – NOVEMBER 5, 2019: ARMY PREPARES FOR ADVANCE IN NORTHERN LATTAKIA

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In response to a recent escalation in northern Lattakia, the Syrian Army has deployed a batch of reinforcements south of the militant-held town of Kbani. According to pro-government sources, the Syrian military leadership is also considering to deploy units from the Tiger Forces to the area. If this is confirmed, the Syrian military may undertake offensive actions around Kbani in the near future. During the past few years, militants used Kbani as a foothold to shell and attack government-controlled areas. The liberation of this town may become a turning point in restoring security and defeating the terrorism in this part of Syria.

Turkish-backed forces shelled a US military column near Tell Tamer in northeastern Syria, Maj. Gen. Yuri Borenkov, the head of the Reconciliation Russian said on November 3. No casualties were reported. Nonetheless, such developments indicate that the situation around the Ras-al-Ayn-Tell Abyad zone still remain tense.

Clashes between Kurdish armed groups and Turkish-backed militants are ongoing near Sakiru, Masoudia and Umm Baramil. Both sides claim that they killed lots of enemy fighters. However, video and photo evidence from the area indicate that most of the developments are never-ending artillery duels.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition has increased its military presence in the Rumeilan oil field area. Local sources say that the number of US-linked mercenaries deployed there has also increased. US forces regularly conduct patrols between the Omar oil fields and the Rumeilan oil field. While the number of US troops deployed in northern Syria is decreasing, the US military presence along the eastern bank of the Euphrates is growing.

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Resistance report: Syrian Army takes the initiative in Idlib while Washington blames its failures on Iran again

Resistance report: Syrian Army takes the initiative in Idlib while Washington blames its failures on Iran again

September 20, 2019

By Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog

August was an eventful month for the Syrian Army and its allies as the battle for northwestern Syria saw a breakthrough after months of static frontline movements. Just like in the previous 3 years, the month of August has been one accompanied by important victories for Damascus. The Syrian Army managed to break through the jihadist lines at the Khan Sheikhoun front and from there steamrolled through the entire frontline, eventually encircling and trapping the jihadist militants in a pocket in northern Hama. Despite counteroffensives launched by Tahrir Al-Sham and their allies from the “Rouse the believers” operations room, the SAA managed to hold on to the newly liberated areas.

With this development, Hama city and Christian towns such as Mhardeh are now safe from the encroaching jihadist threat. This offensive should be expanded now that the Syrian Army still has the initiative, especially with the jihadist morale still shaken by the loss of their doorway into Hama. It is important for Damascus to clear out the remainder of the Latakia province as well as western Aleppo since both these areas are heavily populated and hold strategic value. If Latakia and Aleppo are cleared, then the jihadist threat will be contained to a single province in the country, leaving them pretty much besieged in Idlib as Ankara’s support seems to be fading, as evident by their passiveness during the Syrian Army’s August offensive.

Since the conclusion of the offensive, with a new ceasefire having been declared and expired, the Syrian Army is said to be amassing troops near the Al-Ghaab front in a potential move to completely kick the jihadists out of Hama and thereby finally paving the way for the liberation of Jisr Al-Shughour. This news seems to have been expected by the Jihadists as the Jaysh Al-Izza terrorist outfit has already begun making preparations for the upcoming battle, reportedly sending over 2000 men to the Western Hama countryside. The Syrian Army would do well to be careful here as the key hilltop town of Kabani, overlooking Jisr Al-Shughour still hasn’t been liberated.

Meanwhile, last weekend saw more than half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production go down in flames as the Saudi Aramco oilfields and refineries came under heavy drone attacks. The attacks caused the greatest drop in oil production in history, prompting oil prices to jump 19 percent. If oil prices rise further, the world will inch closer to a global recession, which, among other things, could cost Trump his reelection. Immediately after the attacks, the Yemeni Houthis issued a statement where they took responsibility for the attacks with the movement’s spokesperson General Yahya Sare’e adding that 10 drones were deployed against the sites at Khurais and Abqaiq. “This was one of the largest operations which our forces have carried out deep inside Saudi Arabia. It came after careful intelligence and cooperation with honorable and free people inside Saudi Arabia,” he said without elaboration.

Washington was quick to dismiss the Houthi claim of responsibility when Trump said that Washington has “reason to believe that we know the culprit,” noting that Washington is “locked and loaded depending on verification” and is waiting to “hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack.” The same response was voiced by Pompeo and Lindsey Graham who called for Washington to strike Iran in an attempt to “break the regime’s back”.

Surely Washington understands how embarrassing this debacle is for them. The Saudis have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on purchasing US military equipment and weapons. Equipment and weapons that Washington has spent quite some time claiming is superior to anything else the world has to offer. Last week, a Saudi prince took to twitter and claimed that Saudi Arabia could “destroy Iran in 8 hours”, adding that Iran’s military technology belong to the “museum”.

That same claimed superior weaponry failed to stop a single attack that took out half of the kingdom’s oil production. This makes me wonder if they’re laying the blame on Iran in order to cover up the even greater embarrassment, that American and Saudi military forces and their networks of advanced air defenses never detected the Yemeni drones that were launched on Saturday to strike oil facilities deep inside Saudi Arabia, proving futile the billions of dollars that the Riyadh regime has spent on them to protect its territories. What message does this send to US vassals around the world? In an attempt to downplay the uselessness of the Patriot system, Pompeo, sounding surprised by the vastness of the operation, said: “This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before.”

Really? Never seen before? So the thousands of drone strikes that Washington has launched across the Islamic world is something that they’ve never seen before?

In any case, Pompeo immediately traveled to Riyadh to assure Washington’s vassals that everything is under control, and to discuss “potential responses”, calling the incident “an act of war”. By now, this blame game has become routine, Washington keeps using the same miserable strategy of intimidation, thinking it will work at the 500th attempt.

So here we are again, another dubious incident in which Tehran is held responsible, without any evidence presented. Of course, Tehran didn’t just stand idly by while Washington made these threats, both Ayatollah Khamenei and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued separate responses, vehemently denying Iran’s role in the attack and warning that any attack on Iran would spark an all out war. Khamenei also went on to talk about the importance of not falling for the failed US maximum pressure campaign, which this is all about. Speaking on Tuesday, Khamenei said entering talks with the US under the current circumstances would be tantamount to surrendering to Washington’s pressure campaign. “Negotiating would mean Washington imposing its demands on Tehran. It would also be a manifestation of the victory of America’s maximum pressure campaign,” he noted.

Thus, the Islamic Republic has correctly calculated that Washington’s maximum pressure campaign is nothing but a bluff to intimidate Iran into entering negotiations. Khamenei said “I had already said that America’s objective of [pursuing] talks is to impose [its demands], but they have become so insolent that they even speak about this openly.”

“The US regime is after making its domestic rivals and the Europeans accept this as a definitive policy that maximum pressure is the only way to confront Iran,” added Ayatollah Khamenei. “Their objective in [offering to hold] talks is to prove to everyone that the policy of maximum pressure has yielded results, and that Iranian authorities were forced to come to the negotiating table despite what they said.”

The most probable conclusion is that there won’t be a war. Washington knows very well that it cannot afford a regional war, especially not now when Washington has been exposed for not being able to defend its vassals. If indeed Iran was behind this attack, then one can imagine that if a single drone strike took out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, imagine what an all-out war would result in for Washington and its vassals. The consequences of this debacle can be very severe for Washington in the future as Moscow has already offered the Arab states to purchase Russian weaponry instead, slowly outmanoeuvring Washington as was the case with Turkey and the S-400 deal. It is a real pathetic mess that Washington has got itself into. Washington’s own allies won’t even back their lies. “We are not aware of any information that points to Iran,” Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday.

“We believe the Houthis carried out the attack based on the statement claiming responsibility,” he added, referring to the Yemeni group incorporated into the armed forces fighting back a Saudi-led war on Yemen.

Washington’s list of options grows thin, the US better retract its words, repent and return to the nuclear accord that it has violated or see itself fall even further into decay as Washington’s days of being the sole unipolar power that everyone used to fear are quickly fading away.

Syrian Army steps up operations against jihadist rebels in northeast Latakia: video

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:10 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has recently stepped up their field operations against the jihadist rebels in northeastern Latakia after several reinforcements arrived in the area.

With several units from the 4th Armored Division recently redeploying to the northeastern countryside of Latakia,, the Syrian Army is expected to make another big push to capture the key town of Kabani from the jihadist rebels.

Thus far, the Syrian Arab Army has managed to capture most of the points south of Kabani; however, in order to capture the town, they will need to seize the last hills under the control of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Turkestan Islamic Party.

On Monday, the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Division, alongside the Republican Guard, attempted to advance at the southern axis of Kabani, but they were unable to break through the jihadist defenses.

In the video below, the Syrian Army can be seen attacking the jihadist defenses around Kabani; this has become more prevalent over the last few days.

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Why SAA Resumed the Military Operation to Clean Idlib Post Astana Talks

SAA Resumes Military Operation to Clean Idlib from NATO Terrorists

The latest 13th round of talks in Astana between the Syrian state with Russia and Iran as its guarantors on one side, and Al-Qaeda and the Turkish regime as it guarantor on the other side, would have slowly but steadily resolved the odd situation in the Al-Qaeda occupied Idlib province through the agreements it reached and the acknowledgment by Turkey, finally, that there are terrorist groups in Idlib and not only civilians and hospitals.

Hours after the announcement of the truce from the latest round of talks at Nur-Sultan (Astana), the commander of Nusra Front, or whatever name his group has adopted recently, declared his group’s rejection to the ceasefire. Nusra Front is the dominant power in the last NATO’s stronghold of terror in Syria.

Dima Nassif, chief of Damascus bureau of Lebanese news channel Al-Mayadeen details further in this report, we added English subtitles to, and the English transcript of the translation below the video:

Video also available on BitChute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/lHE6bM4DqXjT/

Transcript of the English translation of the above video report:

The Idlib truce could have passed peacefully had Nusra Front not declared its rejection of the ceasefire.

The Syrian optimism to give the agreement an opportunity to propose a solution that is in line with the Syrian situation, progressing even on the international conventions which allows the Syrian army to continue its operations on the fronts which involve armed groups participating in the agreement and the other rejecting it as the Nusra Front.

Despite that, the army froze its operations to strengthen the chances of a solution in Idlib on the basis of Ankara’s fulfillment of its obligations in the withdrawal of armed groups and its heavy and the medium weapons a distance of 20 kilometers and to isolate Nusra Front as stipulated by Sochi, which allows for the redeployment of Syrian forces and the adaptation of military operations to the remaining open fronts in the Lattakia and Aleppo countryside.

The military operations will not wait to resume again and to define its directions, and it will not wait for any political understanding with the parties sponsoring the talks of Astana and the Sochi agreement, for the first time, the Syrian army is issuing a statement announcing the resumption of the military resolution against terrorism in conjunction with its fighter jets hitting the strongholds of Nusra Front in the countrysides of southern Idlib and northern Hama.

Stopping the war on Idlib in order to balance the talks in Astana, was the strategy that Ankara bet on for a full year to secure an advantage for its factions represented in Astana’s political course and to enhance its bargaining ability politically and militarily in a province that it owns the decision and loyalty of all armed factions, including Al-Qaeda affiliates, and that is what the Syrian army will not allow being repeated.

Contrary to all the optimism that followed the Nur-Sultan (Astana) meeting, the cease-fire collapsed quickly although for the first time the talks put the political and military tracks on two parallel lines, and the absence of a reference to oversee the armed factions and Ankara’s lack of commitment to control it, reflect the fact that these factions retain a margin of maneuver or flip against any understanding or agreement whenever Ankara wants.

Dima Nassif – Damascus, Al Mayadeen

End of the English transcript.

:نص تقرير ديمة ناصيف مديرة مكتب قناة الميادين في دمشق

من دون إعلان النصرة رفضها لوقف اطلاق النار كان يمكن لهدنة إدلب أن تعبر بسلام

التفاؤل السوري بمنح الاتفاق فرصة لاجتراح حل يقارب الوضع السوري تقدم حتى على التصنيفات الدولية التي تتيح للجيش السوري مواصلة عملياته للجبهات التي تتداخل فيها مجموعات مسلحة مشاركة في الاتفاق وأخرى كالنصرة ترفضه

ومع ذلك جمد الجيش عملياته لتدعيم فرص الحل في ادلب على قاعدة إيفاء أنقرة بالتزاماتها في سحب المجموعات المسلحة وسلاحها الثقيل والمتوسط مسافة 20 كيلومتراً وفي عزل النصرة كما ينص سوتشي، ما يفسح في المجال أمام إعادة انتشار القوات السورية وتكييف العمليات العسكرية مع ما تبقى من الجبهات المفتوحة في أرياف اللاذقية وحلب

لن تنتظر العمليات العسكرية لتحتدم من جديد وتتضح وجههتها ولن تتنظر أي تفاهم سياسي مع الأطراف الراعين لمحادثات أستانا واتفاق سوتشي، فالجيش السوري سريعاً وللمرة الأولى يصدر بياناً يعلن فيه استئناف الحسم العسكري ضد الإرهاب بالتزامن مع ضرب طائراته معاقل النصرة في أرياف إدلب الجنوبي وحماه الشمالي

وقف الحرب على ادلب لتحقيق التوازن في محادثات أستانا استراتيجية راهنت عليها أنقرة عاماً كاملاً لتأمين أرجحية لفصائلها في مسار أستانا السياسي ولتعزيز قدرتها على المساومة سياسياً وعسكرياً في محافظة تملك قرار وولاء كل فصائلها المسلحة بما فيها القاعدية، وهو ما لن يسمح الجيش السوري بتكراره

بعكس كل التفاؤل الذي أعقب اجتماع نورسلطان، انهار وقف اطلاق النار سريعاً رغم أنه وللمرة الأولى وضعت المحادثات المسارين السياسي والعسكري على خطين متوازين. وعدم وجود مرجعية للفصائل المسلحة وعدم التزام انقرة بضبطها يعكسان احتفاظ هذه الفصائل بهامش للمناورة أو للانقلاب متى شاءت أنقرة على أي تفاهم أو اتفاق

ديمة ناصيف – دمشق – الميادين

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