Erdogan Loses the Battle, But the War Is Far from Over


New Map of Idlib with Security Corridor

Following 6 hours of grueling negotiations, including direct negotiations between Putin and Erdogan, the parties have finally agreed to the following:

  1. A ceasefire will begin at midnight.
  2. Russia and Turkey will jointly patrol the M4 highway (M5 now belongs to Damascus). A 6km buffer zone will have to be created and enforced on each side of M4 by the March 15th (see map above)
  3. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  4. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to a create the conditions for a return of the refugees.
  5. Both parties have reaffirmed that this conflict as no military solution.

Furthermore, there was a lot of things which were left unsaid, but understood by all:

  1. The recent military gains of the Syrian military will not be disputed and otherwise challenged. The new line of contact has now become official.
  2. Russia and Syria will continue to fight all the organizations which the UNSC has declared “terrorist” (al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and all their franchises irrespective of any “rebranding”).
  3. Moscow remains as committed to the protection of the legitimate Syrian government as ever.

From the above we can also deduce the following:

  1. Erdogan’s Blitzkrieg has failed. Initially, the Turkish drones inflicted major damage on the Syrian forces, but the latter adapted extremely quickly which resulted in what the Russians jokingly referred to as “dronopad” which can roughly be translated as “dronerain”.
  2. The Turks were clearly shocked by the Russian decision to bomb a Turkish battalion. What apparently happened is this: two Syrian Su-22 (old Soviet aircraft) bombed the convoy to force it to stop, then a pair of Russian Su-34 (the most modern Russian all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft) dropped heavy ordinance on the convoy and surrounding buildings killing scores of Turkish special forces). Both sides decided to “blame” the Syrians, but they don’t fly Su-34, and everybody knows that.
  3. Erdogan understood that he either had to double down or declare victory and leave. He wisely chose the latter, at least as a temporary measure.
  4. Neither NATO nor the EU showed any signs of wanting to join Turkey’s war on Syria (because that is what we are really dealing with here), and neither did the US. Since I cannot call that decision “wise” (there is no wisdom of any kind left in western regimes), I will call it simply “prudent” as Russia was not about to allow Turkey to invade Syria.
  5. Iran, Hezbollah, and Libya all declared their willingness to fight the Turks for as long as needed and anywhere where needed.

In spite of these developments, it is pretty clear that internal Turkish politics will continue to force Erdogan to engage in what is politely called “neo-Ottoman” policies aka phantom pains for a lost empire. The obvious solution for Russia is to further arm the Syrians, especially with modernized versions of the Pantsir SAMs which have proven very effective against drones, MLRS rockets and even mortars.

The main Syrian problem is a lack of numbers. Until more forces are equipped, trained, deployed and engaged, the Russians need to provide a much stronger air defense capabilities to Syria. The Syrians have done miracles with old, frankly outdated, Soviet equipment (which, considering its age and lack of proper maintenance, has performed superbly), but now they need much better Russian gear to defend not only against Turkey, but also against the Axis of Kindness (US+Israel+KSA).

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the Russian task force in Khmeimim and Tartus is too big and not well balanced. Khmeimin needs many more Su-25SM3 and a few more Su-35S/Su-30SM to protect them. The naval base at Tartus lacks ASW capabilities, as does much of the Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean. And while the Russian Navy has a number of ships with “Kalibr” cruise missiles onboard, their numbers are, again, inadequate, which means that the Russian Aerospace Forces need to deploy as many Kalibr-capable aircraft in southern Russia as possible. Both Tartus and Khmeimim are pretty close to the Idlib province (that is also were the “good terrorist” tried to strike Russian forces from which, thanks to the successful Syrian offensive, they now cannot do anymore!). This suggests to me that Russia ought to declare a larger exclusive air control zone over both of this locations, and beef up the numbers of missiles and launchers the Russian air defenses will have to enforce it.

Finally, I think that Erdogan has outlived his utility for Russia (and for Turkey, for that matter!). He clearly is a loose cannon which, according to some rumors, even the Turkish public opinion is getting fed up with. Russia should not neglect that public opinion. Then there are the Libyans, “Field Marshal” Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, whose forces seems to have been extremely successful against the Turkish forces in Libya. The Russians are, quietly, supporting Haftar who, while not exactly an ideal ally for Russia, can prove useful. What the Russians need to do next is to explain two things to Erdogan and his ministers:

  1. If you attack again in Syria, you will be defeated, possibly worse than the first time around
  2. If you mess with our geostrategic interests, we will mess with yours

The only party which the Russians should never arm are the Kurds, who are even more unreliable than Erdogan and who are basically an Israeli asset to destabilize Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Russia should, however, talk to the Kurds (all factions) and convince them to accept a large cultural autonomy inside Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey could be added to this list, but only once a trustworthy government comes to power in Ankara. Under no circumstances should Russia arm the Kurds.

Right now, the best Russian ally in the region is Syria. This is the country which Russia needs to make safe by creating a truly modern air defense network. The Russians have already done a lot towards this goal, including integrating their combat management and EW systems, but that is not enough. While Russian aid and Syrian skills have forced the Israelis to conduct mostly symbolic and ineffective air strikes, often with missiles shot from outside the Syrian airspace, and while many (most) Israeli missiles were destroyed by the Syrian air defenses, it is pretty clear that both the Turks and the Israelis feel that if they launch missiles from long distance they are relatively safe. That perception needs to be changed, not only to force the Turks and the Israelis to shoot from even further and accept even more losses, but also to show the US, NATO and Europe that the Syrian air defenses are capable of making anything short of a massive attack pointless (and a massive attack costly).

We should also note that the Turkish propaganda machine has been very effective. Yes, a lot of what they said was self-evidently “feelgood” nonsense (thousands of dead Syrians, hundred of tanks, etc.) , but their footage of a Turkish drone striking a Pantsir in Libya did, at least initially, impress those who don’t understand air defense warfare (destroying a single isolated first-generation Pantsir is not that hard, especially from right above it, but destroying a Pantsir position in which launchers protect each other is quite different. And if that Pantsir position is protected “below” (AA+MANPADS) and “above” (medium to long range SAMs), then this becomes extremely difficult).

This war is not over and it won’t be until Erdogan is removed from power. Frankly, Russia needs a stable and trustworthy partner on her southern border, and that won’t happen until the Turks ditch Erdogan. The problem here is that God only knows who might succeed him, should the Gulenists seize power, that will not be good for Russia either.

And here we come back to the murder of General Suleimani. Frankly, the Iranians are spot on: the two things which made the Middle-East into the bloody mess it has been for decades are 1) Israel and 2) the US. The end goal for the former is a one-state solution, whether accepted or imposed. The intermediate goal ought to be to get the US out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and, possibly, Turkey. Erdogan is crazy and desperate enough (not to mention vengeful) to at least bring this intermediate goal one step closer by alienating the US and NATO. So the Russian game plan ought to be obvious: first, use military means to “contain Erdogan inside Turkey” and, next, engage in long term efforts to prepare for a post-Erdogan Turkey. Then let the SOB destroy himself.

I don’t believe that peace is possible between a secular Syria and a Takfiri-backing Turkey. And I sure don’t believe that the Takfiris can be remolded into any kind of “democratic opposition”. Thus the real end-goal for Russia and Syria will always be military victory, not “peace” (assuming that concept of “peace with the Takfiris” makes any sense at all, which it doesn’t). The Russians know that, even if they won’t admit it.

For the time being, what we see is the first phase of the Turkey-Syria war ending and for the next couple of weeks we shall see a transition into some other phase which will probably be one in which, surprise surprise, the Turks fail to remove all the Takfiri nutcases from Idlib which will then give Syria and Russia a legal reason to take direct action again. In theory, at least, Erdogan could decide to pour the Turkish armed forces across the border, but the closer they will get to Khmeimim and/or Tartus, the more dangerous the stakes for Turkey and for Erdogan personally.

The key to success for the Axis of Resistance is to make Syria too tough to crack. I hope that Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq will continue to work together, hopefully with Chinese aid, to create such a Syria.

Assad to Russia 24: Erdogan Aligned with Al Qaeda Because of his Muslim Brotherhood Ideology

March 5, 2020 Miri Wood

President Bashar al Assad told Russia-24 TV that Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood ideology, not Turkish national interests, is the cause of his sending troops illegally into Syria, to fight for al Qaeda in Idlib.

Dr. Assad also discussed the challenges of the American occupation of Syrian oil fields and Syrian monies stolen by foreign banks.

Syria News provides the full transcript of the recent interview by Yevgeny Primokov, courtesy of SANA.

Journalist:  Hello! This is “International Review” with Yevgeny Primakov. Today, we are in Damascus, in our temporary studio. His Excellency, President Bashar al-Assad, is not our guest in the studio; rather, we are his guests. Mr. President, thank you very much for receiving us and giving us the time to conduct this interview. We are happy to be with you and to see that you are in good health in these difficult circumstances.

President Assad:  You are welcome. I am very happy to receive a Russian national television station.

Question 1:  Thank you very much Mr. President. Clearly, the most important topic now, besides the war on terrorism that your country is waging, are the events in the Idlib governorate, and the danger of confrontation between the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey. The Turkish forces are directly supporting what is called “the opposition,” although we see in their ranks elements which belong to terrorist organizations, which are affiliated to Al Qaeda and other organizations. Turkish troops are also taking part in attacks against Syrian forces. The question is: what has changed in the relations between you and Erdogan, between Syria and Turkey? Before 2011, Erdogan used to call you “brother,” and your two families were friends. What has changed and pushed things to where they are now?

President Assad:  The core of the issue is American policy.  At a point in time, the United States decided that secular governments in the region were no longer able to implement the plans and roles designated to them; of course, I am referring to the countries which were allies of the United States and not those like Syria which are not.  They decided to replace these regimes with Muslim Brotherhood regimes that use religion to lead the public.

In doing this, things would become easier for American plans and Western plans in general.  This process of “replacement” started with the so-called Arab Spring.  Of course, at the time, the only Muslim Brotherhood-led country in the region was Turkey, through Erdogan himself and his Brotherhood affiliation.  Prior to this, our relations with them were good in both the political and economic fields; we even had security and military cooperation.  There were no problems at all between Syria and Turkey.  We didn’t do anything against them and we didn’t support any forces hostile to them. We believed them to be neighbours and brothers.  But Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood affiliation is much stronger than all of this and he returned to his original identity and built his policies with Syria according to this ideology.

It is well-known that the Muslim Brotherhood were the first organisation to endorse violence and use religion to gain power. Now, if we ask ourselves, why are Turkish soldiers being killed in Syria?  What is the cause they are fighting for?  What is the dispute?  There is no cause, even Erdogan himself is unable to tell the Turks why he is sending his army to fight in Syria.  The single reason is the Muslim Brotherhood and it has nothing to do with Turkish national interests.  It is related to Erdogan’s ideology and consequently the Turkish people have to die for this ideology.  That’s why he is unable to explain to the Turkish people why his soldiers are being killed in Syria.

Question 2:  Is there any hope of establishing any kind of communication between Turkey and Syria gradually, at least between the military and the intelligence, and in the future, maybe, diplomatic relations?

President Assad:  During the past two years, numerous intensive meetings took place between Russian and Turkish officials, and despite the Turkish aggression a few meetings were held between Syrian and Turkish security officials.  Our shared objective with the Russians was to move Turkey away from supporting terrorists and bring it back to its natural place.  For Syria, and for you also, Turkey is a neighbouring country.  It is natural to have sound relations with a neighboring country; it is unnatural under any pretext or any circumstance to have bad relations.  So, as to your question, is it possible?  Of course it is, but we can’t achieve this outcome while Erdogan continues to support the terrorists.  He has to stop supporting terrorism, at which point things can return to normal because there is no hostility between the two peoples.  The hostility is caused by political actions or policies based on vested interests.  On the level of the Syrian nation and the Turkish nation, there are neither differences nor conflicts of interests.  So, yes, these relations should return to normal.

Question 3:  Is this your message to the Turkish people, that there is no hostility against them?  Have I understood you correctly?

President Assad:  Of course, we used to describe them as brotherly people, even now, I ask the Turkish people: what is your issue with Syria?  What is the issue for which a Turkish citizen deserves to die?  What is the hostile act, small or large, carried out by Syria against Turkey during or before the war?  There is none.  There are mixed marriages and families, and daily interactions and interests between Syria and Turkey.  In Turkey, there are groups of Syrian Arab origin and there are groups in Syria of Turkish origin.  These interactions have existed throughout history; it is not logical that there is a dispute between us.

Question 4: Mr. President, I realize that I am talking to a head of state; nevertheless, I can’t but ask about the human dimension. This person [Erdogan] shook your hand, was your guest, you received him, and he called you a brother and a friend, etc.. Now, he allows himself to say all these things. How does that affect you emotionally?

President Assad: I have met people who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood from different countries.  He is one of them from Turkey, there were some from Egypt, Palestine and others; they have all done the same thing.  

They used to say nice things about Syria or about their personal relationship with me, but when things change, they turn against the person.  That’s how the Muslim Brotherhood are: they have no political, social, or religious ethics.  For them, religion is not a form of good, it is violence; this is their principle.  Erdogan is a member of the opportunistic Muslim Brotherhood and so it is normal for him to do what he has done.  The lack of clarity and endless lying are part of their nature.

Question 5: The war in your country has been going on for nine years.  It is twice as long as the World War II, the Great Patriotic War, and soon we will mark the 75th anniversary of our victory in it, which is a very important event for Russia.  What strength does the Syrian people store that enables them to survive and triumph and avoid despair?  What is the secret?  Is it an internal strength, or something else?  Or is it simply that you have better weapons?

President Assad:  There are several factors which should be considered.  The fact that we are a small country, means these factors make us a strong country in this war.  First and foremost, national awareness and public opinion.  Without the widespread awareness of the Syrian people that what is happening is the result of a Western conspiracy against their country, Syria might have perished or been destroyed very quickly.  This popular realization produced a national unity despite different political leanings or different cultural and social affiliations – ethnic, religious or sectarian groups.  This awareness created unity with the state in confronting terrorism; this is a very important factor.

The second factor is the Syrian people’s legendary capacity for sacrifice, which we have witnessed primarily through the Syrian Arab Army.  Under normal circumstances, one would believe that these sacrifices can only be found in movies or novels, while in fact they were apparent in every battle and this is what protected the country.

In addition to the sacrifices of the army, the people themselves sacrificed.  They have been living in extremely difficult circumstances: continuous shelling, sanctions and bad economic conditions.  Nevertheless, the people remained steadfast with their country.

The third factor is the public sector, which has played an important role in keeping the state together.  In the worst of circumstances, salaries continued to be paid, schools kept running and daily essential services were provided to citizens.  Bottom line services continued to be provided so that life continues.

In addition to these factors, there is the fact that our friends have supported us, particularly Russia and Iran.  They have supported us politically, militarily, and economically.  All these factors together have helped Syria remain steadfast up until now.

Question 6: If you don’t mind, I’ll dwell on these factors for more details, and we will start with the Syrian society and what you have said about its diverse culture and tolerance among its different ethnic, cultural and religious groups. The extremist terrorists have struck a severe blow to this Syrian characteristic by promoting extremist demands and an extremist ideology. Yesterday, we were in the Old City of Damascus, and we couldn’t imagine what the situation would be like if the black flag of the caliphate appeared in Damascus, something which can only be imagined with horror. To what extent is Syria ready to rebuild itself as a multicultural state, tolerant, secular, etc.?

President Assad:  What I’m about to say may sound exaggerated, but by nature I speak in real terms and do not like exaggeration.  In actual fact, Syrian society today in terms of coherence and the social integration of its different segments, is better than it was before the war.  This is for a simple reason: war is a very important lesson to any society, a lesson that extremism is destructive and that not accepting the other is dangerous.  As a result, these segments within our society came together.

If you go to the Old City or to any area under government control, you will not see this problem at all.  On the contrary, as I mentioned, things are better than before.  The problem is in the areas which were outside government control.  That’s why I’m not concerned at all in this regard, despite the attempted Western narrative to show that the war in Syria is between sects, which is not true.  A war between sects means that you come today to this area and find one colour, and in another area you find another colour, and in another place a third and a fourth colour; this is not the case. You will see all the colours of Syria, without exception, in the state-controlled areas.  Whereas in the terrorist-controlled areas, they are not looking for a colour, but for parts of one colour, which is the extremist colour.  This is because only extremists at the far end of extremism could live with them and that is why a large number of people fled the terrorist-controlled areas to state-controlled areas.  That is why I’m not concerned at all in this regard.  The challenge, however, will be in the areas which were occupied by the terrorists.

Question 7: This raises the question of the possibility of granting an amnesty. There are many people who were misled by the propaganda of the terrorists and extremists. Some of them committed crimes. Others were members of armed groups which committed terrorist acts. But there are those who did not carry weapons, or carried them without killing people. What are the grounds on which the government can reach out to them? And can there be compromises through which such people can be forgiven? This is a very important moral question. And in addition to the moral dimension, there are legal aspects as to resolving their status and integrating them in society, and maybe in the army as well.

President Assad:  In this type of war, amnesty must be a core element of domestic policy.  We cannot restore stability if we do not grant amnesty for the mistakes that have been made.  From the very beginning of the war, we have regularly enacted amnesty decrees pardoning all those who acted against the national interest. In the areas which were controlled by the militants, we have conducted what we call local reconciliations that have resulted in the state legally pardoning individuals; all those who hand in

their weapons, receive amnesty provided that they return to their normal civil life under the authority of the state and the rule of law. This process has been very successful and restored stability to a large number of areas, and we are continuing to implement this policy.

There are very limited cases which cannot be granted amnesty, for example those who committed criminal acts and premeditatedly killed large numbers of people; most of these are terrorist leaders.  However, in terms of the broader situation, I believe that most people want to return to the state, because a large number of them who carried weapons were actually forced to do so.  They had no choice: either you carry weapons or you are killed.  These people are not necessarily extremists.  They do not have a terrorist past.  They are ordinary people who were forced to carry weapons.

Similarly, there are those who had to take political or public positions in the media in favour of the terrorists for the same reasons, we know this for a fact.  That’s why I believe that most of these people do support the state and were cooperating and communicating with us throughout.  So, I fully agree with you, we must continue providing amnesty and we must continue with this process in the new areas we liberate, especially since we want most Syrians inside and outside Syria to return to their country.

Question 8: Now, we will talk about rebuilding the state, but the state always consists of people. When we talk about terrorists, we either force them to drop their weapons or persuade them to drop them and go back to their senses. Conversely, there are those who have their perceptions of justice; and you certainly meet state officials, whether in the security or police agencies, who have to reach out and resolve the status of those who became terrorists on the other side. These officials might resent that and find it difficult to accept. For instance, if I see this individual who used to aim his weapon at me living with me now on the same street and buying bread from the same bakery as I do, how should I behave? What do you say to state supporters who are not always prepared to accept such an amnesty or such an act of forgiveness?

President Assad:  At the beginning of the war we used to see such cases.  I recall when I passed the first amnesty decree, many Syrians resented it not only within the government, but also the broader public because some may have lost a family member from the terrorism.  In the beginning, it was not easy to tell them that we will grant amnesty in order to restore stability.  However, this was the case for the first few months only.  Today, if you ask anybody or at least those who support the state, regardless of whether they work in the government or not, this is now accepted because they have seen the results.  In fact, in many cases they are the ones pushing for an amnesty and a settlement, which helps greatly.  So, there are no longer different viewpoints, because the facts on the ground have shown that this is the right thing to do and that it is good for Syria.

Question 9: As to the situation on the ground, I’ll not talk about who controls this or that area, because the situation on the ground is fluid and ever-changing and should be left to the military. But it is clear now that the state has restored large areas in southern Idlib governorate. Here, peaceful life will return, as happened in other areas, in Eastern Ghouta, Deir Ezzor, and the other areas liberated previously. What will the state do when it goes into the liberated areas? Where will it start its work? And what is the most important aspect to restoring peaceful life?

President Assad: In many of the areas we have liberated, there are no civilians since most had left when the terrorists arrived.  The first thing we do is to restore the infrastructure in order to enable the local population to return.  The first thing they need is electricity, water, roads, police, municipalities, and other services.  They need all these service providers; this is the first challenge.  The second, which is equally important, is rebuilding schools so that they are able to receive students.  If the infrastructure is available and I can’t send my children to school, what’s the point, it means I can’t go back to this area.  So, schools and health services are fundamental after the exit of terrorists and the restoration of security.  Later, of course, we engage with the local community to identify who was involved with the terrorists through various actions.  As I mentioned earlier, this is an important step towards reconciliation and resolving the status of these people in order to restore normal life to the city.

Question 10: What are the difficulties which emerge during this process? And are there sleeper cells which undermine the process of reconstruction? What are the problems facing you?

President Assad:  When I mentioned that the pardons and reconciliations have been successful, this doesn’t mean that the success was a hundred percent; nothing is perfect.  Some of these people still have terrorist leanings and extremist ideology, and are still cooperating with extremist groups in other areas and carrying out terrorist acts.  In the past few weeks, there have been a number of explosive devices planted in different places or under cars.  These terrorist acts have claimed the lives of many victims.  However, this doesn’t mean that we stop the process of reconciliations, but rather we need to hunt down these sleeper cells.  We have been able to arrest a large number of them, but there are others that are still active.  One sleeper cell might carry out a number of acts giving the impression that a full organisation exists.  Whereas in fact it is one cell made up of a group of individuals and by arresting them you are able to restore safety and security.  However, this challenge will remain, because terrorism still exists in Syria and outside support in the form of weapons and money is still at large.  Therefore, we do not expect to eliminate these sleeper cells in the foreseeable future.  We will continue to eliminate cells and others will appear, until things return to normal in Syria.

Question 11: Mr. President, in two months’ time, if I’m not mistaken, the country will hold parliamentary elections, in these difficult circumstances. How difficult will that be? Or, would they proceed according to plan, and nothing will stop or obstruct them?

President Assad: There is a constitution and we are governed by it.  We do not give in to Western threats or Western wishes, and we do not consider any factor other than the constitution.  The issue of postponing constitutional deadlines, whether for presidential or parliamentary elections, was raised with us several times and we refused to do so during the war.  Parliamentary elections will be held in a few months’ and we will proceed according to the constitutional agenda regardless of anything else.

Question 12: We talked about the domestic situation, let’s now talk about the outer environment. The Syrian Arab Republic has been subjected since 2011 to tightly-enforced isolation, not only by the Americans and the Europeans, which was expected, but also by the Arab League and its member states, including the Arab Gulf states. We know that the UAE embassy was reopened, and that Oman did not close its embassy and continued to work as usual. Do you see a positive change on the part of the Arab world, or is the situation still as it was, and that isolation persists? And what are the prospects of your contacts with the European Union? I’ll not ask about the Americans, for everything regarding them is unfortunately clear.

President Assad: Most Arab countries have maintained their relations with Syria, but not publicly for fear of pressure.  These countries have expressed their support for Syria and their wishes for us to defeat terrorism. However, Western pressure and American in particular, was severe on these countries to remain distant and not to open their embassies in Syria, particularly the Gulf states.  Europe however, is completely different.  In fact, for us, Europe for more than two decades and even before this war, has been absent on the global political arena. Europe has ceased to exist since 2003, after the American invasion of Iraq.  Europe surrendered completely to the United States and its role was limited to implementing what it was charged with by the American administration.

So, whether they communicate with us or not, the result is the same.  Whether they open embassies or not, there is no value.  We have met with a number of security officials from most European countries and they have been reasonable but they are unable to change course.  Some have frankly said, “we are unable to change, our politicians cannot change their policies because the European policy is linked to the American policy.”  They climbed the tree and are simply unable to come down.  That’s why we do not waste our time talking about a European role and European policy.  The master is the American.  We can talk about the Americans and this automatically includes the Europeans.

But in answer to your question, yes, there is a change.  There are clear convictions that this war has not achieved what those countries, or some of the colonialist countries wanted, that the Syrian people have paid the price, that stability has paid the price and now the Europeans are paying the price.  The problem of refugees in Europe is huge, but they will not change in the near future.  This is my conviction.

Question 13: Now, Turkey is blackmailing Europe by using the migrants. And this is what Erdogan is doing right now.

President Assad:  Turkey started sending the second wave of refugees to Europe as a form of blackmail.  Erdogan had threatened that he would send refugees.  Yesterday, there were videos on various media outlets about the beginning of a migrant movement towards Europe.

Question 14: In one of your answers, you touched on the relation with Russia. We consider it a relation of partnership. But this relation went through difficult years when Russia limited its presence in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Many people saw that as a betrayal, and that Russia turned its back on its old allies and partners. Now, how do you describe these relations which have been strengthened naturally during nine years of war? Since our aforementioned opponents, including the Europeans and the Americans, who are “evil tongues” as we say in Russia, claim that Syria is under Russian control. Is that true in reality. For our part, we look at this relation as a partnership and an alliance.

President Assad:  Our relations with you span more than six decades; this is not a short period of time and it covers several generations.  We know each other very well and this relationship has been through various experiences.  Through the different circumstances, including the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, our relations with Russia have always been based on mutual respect, a peer-to-peer relationship.  We have never felt at any time, even during this war, that Russia is trying to impose its views on us.  They have always treated us with respect; even when we differed, they respected the views of the Syrian government.  This is a general rule that has governed the past decades and hasn’t changed because it is based on Russian customs, traditions, and perspectives.  So, on a bilateral level the relationship between Syria and Russia is clearly a partnership, particularly now after the war, this partnership has become stronger and more reliable.

However, if we wanted to view our relationship with Russia from a different perspective, which is Russia’s international role, the issue is different.  Today, many small countries and even countries of medium strength around the world, look towards Russia and rely to a large extent on its role, because it is Russia’s duty today to restore international balance to the global arena.  The presence of the Russian military base in Syria is not only aimed at fighting terrorism but also at creating an international political balance in the Security Council, as well as a military balance in different areas with a view of restoring the Russian role.  Restoring this role is in the interest of all states, including Syria and other small and medium-sized countries as I mentioned.   Therefore, we view this relationship from two perspectives: a partnership on the bilateral level and a relationship based on this international role, which we hope will continue to increase as has been the case since President Putin came to power in 2000 and restored Russia’s position.

Question 15: Now we are talking about military and political support. What about the economy? Going back to rebuilding Syria, are there large Russian – or non-Russian – projects which help in reconstruction? Is there a state or a company which is prepared to come and invest in the Syrian economy without fear of sanctions or political problems caused by the United States and Europe? For instance, there used to be a flourishing pharmaceutical industry in Aleppo, which used to export its products throughout the Middle East, and you, as a doctor, know that. Are there any ideas to restore industrial production in the pharmaceutical field or other fields? And to what extent the lack of resources will affect these economic projects, considering that oil is now outside state control and is controlled by a power, which came from beyond the Atlantic and built its bases there under the pretext of protecting oil?

President Assad:  When we built our infrastructure in Syria in the 1970s and the 1980s, we did not have oil at that time.  It was built with Syrian money and with Syrian capabilities.  So, we know we have the capabilities and can provide the resources.  There is a lot of Syrian capital within Syria and mostly abroad and should most certainly take part in this process.

Since 2018, there has been a great interest from big companies outside of Syria – Arab and non-Arab, to participate in the reconstruction.  However, what’s happening is that the Americans are applying huge pressure and threatening individuals and companies alike; this has no doubt frightened some of these companies.  This is happening even with regard to Russian companies.  There are several Russian companies which want to invest in Syria but fear taking any step.  Chinese companies have the same problem.

However, every problem has a solution.  Most recently, a number of large international companies have started to come to Syria using different methods which enable them to evade the sanctions.  So, there is a possibility now for these companies to work in Syria without facing sanctions.  Of course, I cannot discuss these methods, but we have started to see a return of foreign investment.  It is true that the movement is slow, but I believe it is a good start – a promising start, to support the reconstruction process which we have started.  We did not wait; we have begun in some areas and in order to expand there must be a larger number of companies and investments.

Question 16:  What are the areas which you consider priorities or most attractive to investors?

President Assad:  Of course, the most important is rebuilding the destroyed suburbs.  I think this will be of high interest for investment companies and several have already expressed interest; this is certainly a profitable area.  Another sector is oil and gas, which is also profitable.  There are already a number of Russian companies that have started operating in Syria during the past few years and are now planning to increase production.  The biggest obstacle preventing expansion in this sector is the terrorist and American occupation of the most important sites of oil wells in Syria.  The Americans know this of course, and that’s why they continue to occupy the oil wells and obstruct the reconstruction process.  In short, these are the most important sectors.  Of course, there are many other areas which any society needs, but are less important for international companies.

Question 17: As we know, there is a big problem caused by freezing Syrian funds in foreign banks.  Is it difficult to finance some contracts because of that?

President Assad:  That’s true.  This is robbery in every sense of the word; but if the money is stolen it doesn’t mean that as a state and as a society we should stop creating wealth.  We have many capabilities and this is one of the reasons why we have survived nine years of war.  They are well aware that if the war stopped completely, Syrian society is capable of rising in a strong manner and that we will be stronger economically than we were before the war. This is why they have resorted to threatening Syrian and foreign companies.  In other words, if a Syrian citizen wants to invest in Syria, they will likely be sanctioned, or oil revenues are prevented from returning to Syria. The more important factor is the ongoing war, which discourages companies and prevents them from coming to Syria.  If these three factors are eliminated, we have no problem in rebuilding the country.  We have strong human and material resources in Syria and we also have faithful friends like Russia and Iran who will help us.

Question 18: Mr. President, we talked about Idlib in general, and touched on the oil fields east of the Euphrates river controlled by the Americans, and we know that there is a power outage every four hours, and we know that power plants are mostly fueled by oil products. This factor – controlling oil and oil products – is crucial for Syrian economy. Do you have any plans to restore control over the areas east of the Euphrates? How are you going to proceed in that direction?

President Assad:  Militarily the priority now is Idlib, this is why we see Erdogan using all his force and no doubt under American directives.  This is because by liberating Idlib we will be able to move towards liberating the eastern regions.  As I have said on several occasions, for them, Idlib militarily is an advanced post.  They have used all their power to obstruct the liberation of Idlib, so that we do not move eastward.  However, despite not yet advancing towards the eastern region, we are still in direct communication with the population there.  There is a great deal of anger and resentment on their part against the American occupation and against the groups acting on behalf of the Americans.

I believe that this anger will build up gradually and there will be resistance operations against the occupiers.  It is the national and constitutional duty of the state to support any act against an occupying power.  As time goes by, the Americans will not have a population supporting them but a population standing against the American occupation.  They will not be able to stay, neither for the oil nor to support terrorists like ISIS and al-Nusra or any other reason.  The same of course, applies to the Turks who are occupying the northern part of Syrian territories.  If they do not leave through political negotiations, they must leave by force.  This is what we will do.  This is also our patriotic duty as Syrians.

Question 19: It’s good that we have arrived at this difficult issue. If we talk about the Kurds who live in the east and northeast of the country, and who might not be happy with the Americans and the Turks, particularly the Turks, with whom they have a longstanding enmity. Their relationship with Damascus is difficult because they are separatists and supported the United States at one point and became its allies. The question here is about reunifying the Syrian Arab Republic and reintegrating its territories within its legal borders. How are you going to build your policy regarding the Kurds, taking into account that Damascus has almost accused them of treason because they signed an agreement with the Americans. Do you have a plan in that regard? What’s the price for integrating them? What can you give the Kurds? And what are the things which you cannot give them?

President Assad:  We are in contact with the Kurdish political groups in northern Syria, the problem is that some of these groups, not all of them, operate under American authority.  We do not say “the Kurds” because the larger part of the Kurds are patriotic groups or tribes which support the state; however, these groups have no voice.  Those who control the area are small groups acting with the Americans.

As to what is sometimes referred to as the “Kurdish cause,” there is no such cause in Syria for a simple reason. Historically, there are Kurds who live in Syria; these groups which came to the north did so during the last century and only as a result of the Turkish oppression.  We have hosted them in Syria.  Kurds, Armenians and other groups came to Syria and we had no problem with that.  For example, there is no Syrian-Armenian issue.    There is a great diversity in Syria and we do not have an issue with that diversity, so why would we have a problem with the Kurds?!  The problem is with the groups that started to promote separatist propositions a few decades ago, mainly in the early 1980s.  Yet despite this, when the Turkish state during various periods oppressed and killed the Kurds in Turkey, we supported them.  We haven’t stood against their cause, if they call it a cause.  In Syria, they were given a nationality, even though they were not Syrian.  We have always been positive regarding the Kurdish issue.  Therefore, what is called “the Kurdish cause” is an incorrect title, a false title.

The problem right now is dealing with the Americans.  The Americans are occupiers; they occupied our lands.  The Americans are thieves stealing our oil.  You cannot play both sides: between those who protect the law and those who break it.  You cannot stand with the police and the thief at the same time, this is impossible.  You are either with the police or the thief.  So, we cannot reach results in any dialogue with them, even if we were to meet thousands of times, unless they take a clear position, a patriotic position: to be against the Americans, against occupation and against the Turks because they too are occupiers.

Quite simply, this is our demand.  This is a national position and as a government we are responsible for the constitution and for our national interests.  The whole Syrian people accept nothing less than them taking a stand against the occupation.  As for anything else, if they have other demands, the Syrian people have demands too.  How do we achieve results? We engage in discussions and then we can decide: do we change the constitution? Do we change the law? Or any other measure, this is all possible.  This is a Syrian-Syrian dialogue. However, the government in Syria does not own the constitution; the people own the constitution and therefore they are the ones who can change the constitution.

Question 20: If we take into account what is happening in Idlib, which we talked about at the beginning of the interview, and that Turkey is one of the main opponents of the Kurds, does the idea of reaching a reconciliation with the Kurds tempt you on these grounds? You can choose not to answer this question if you like.

President Assad:  On the contrary, this is a logical question.  These Kurdish groups which claim to be against Turkish occupation and issue statements that they will fight, did not fire a single bullet when the Turks invaded.  Why?  Because the Americans identified which area the Turks would enter and the boundaries that they should reach, as well as the areas that these groups should leave.  So, do we agree on statements or on actions?  We want to agree on the actions.  In their statements, they have said that they are against the Turks, but they are not doing anything against them at all.  They are neutral.  They are moving in line with the Americans and the Turks.  Only the Syrian government and other segments of Syrian society are fighting the Turks and losing martyrs every day.  Other than that, I agree with you.  If they were to say “we will agree with you against the Turks,” my response would be, we are ready, send your fighters so that together we can defend our land.

Question 21: In this region, there is also a very old enemy of the Syrian Arab Republic, which always reminds people of itself, Israel, or the Zionist entity as you call it. How do you see the “great” Deal of the Century, the gift given to us by American President Donald Trump? Where might it take us? I don’t mean to influence your answer in any way. I’m only recalling what is being discussed in Russia, that the deal as a solution for the Palestinian cause is simply a dead end.

President Assad:  Our relations with the United States were restored during the Nixon administration in 1974.  Since that time, we have met with numerous American officials in the administration, with presidents and members of Congress, and we have learned one thing only: anything an American politician does, is first and foremost to serve his personal interests in relation to the next elections.  They do not think of higher national American interests.  They do not think of world stability, or of international law, or the rights of peoples.  This doesn’t exist in their policies.  They only think of their elections and nothing else.

As to the ‘deal of the century,’ this proposition was made at this particular time only for the next American elections.  The presidential elections will be held at the end of this year.  So, the idea is meaningless, an empty shell.  The idea, if applied, is not harmful, but rather destructive to the Middle East and the peace process which started in the early 1990s.  However, when would their idea succeed and when would it fail?  It succeeds if the people of this region agree that it should succeed.  If you review all political and official statements, as well as public opinion on social media, you will find a total rejection of this plan, including from states and governments allied with America and those that have relations with Israel.  So, it’s safe to say that it is a stillborn plan.  Trump might be able to use it in his next elections in order to please the Israeli lobby in the United States.  But after that, we will probably not hear about the ‘deal of the century’ until the next elections. At which point there will be another and worse plan presented for the next elections.

Question 22: Thank you very much Mr. President. I have one final question, maybe a more emotional question. To what extent have these past nine years been difficult psychologically for you? To what extent have they been difficult to your family? Your wife has founded and manages one of the biggest charities in Syria which provides a great deal to children, to the wounded, and to restoration of normal life. I realize that I might be asking embarrassing questions, and I apologize for that, but to what extent have you suffered from what is happening within your family? And when you look back at what you have done during the past nine years, do you say to yourself that you haven’t done what you should have done on certain issues, or that a mistake was made in this regard and the right thing was done on another issue, and more should have been done?

President Assad:  There are two sides to this question: one is the formal, when I think about this war in my official capacity within the state and the other is the personal.

As an official, the first thing you think of in this situation is protecting the country; this is your duty as a head of state.  Here we can take as an example something that lives on as a tradition, which is the Great Patriotic War in Russia.  Your relations with Germany, like any other country, were good.  You had normal relations: agreements, engagements, meetings and you had not done anything against Germany.  Nevertheless, the Nazis attacked Russia and you lost 26 million martyrs, maybe more.  Was there any other choice but to defend your country?  No, that was the only choice.  The decision taken by the Russian leadership at the time was the right decision supported by the Russian people who defended their country.  Were there mistakes?  Of course, there are mistakes in every action.  Are there political or military decisions which could have been better?  Certainly, for everything has flaws and errors.  The same applies to us in Syria.  The decisions which we took from day one, were to preserve the sovereignty of Syria and to fight terrorists until the end, and we are still doing that.  After nine years, I believe that had we taken a different direction, we would have lost our country from day one.  That’s why this decision was the right one.  As to the mistakes made in daily matters, they are always there, of course.  Every time there is a mistake, we should correct it and change the decision.  This is the normal thing to do.

On a personal level, here I am like any other citizen; every individual has ambitions for his country.  Especially that before the war, we were advancing and achieving significant growth, and the country was developing at a fast pace.  It is true that we had many problems because when the reform process moves quickly, it has negative aspects, maybe in the form of corruption or policy mistakes.  But by and large, our national capabilities were improving and developing.  After nine years, when you see how far behind you are economically, technologically, culturally and educationally, of course there is a sense of frustration at times at a personal level.  Certainly, in the end, any war regardless of its causes or outcomes, is a very bad thing.  You cannot have a positive feeling towards any war.  You will always feel pain and frustration.  On a daily basis, you are losing good people and draining your resources.  So, there is certainly a kind of pain that you feel on a daily basis on a personal level.  However, at the same time, this pain should be the motivation and the incentive for you to do more and to have confidence and hope that you are capable of becoming stronger and better than before.

Journalist:  You have confirmed once again that a person like you can only have one position, the position of the statesman, because the views you have expressed are the views and the position of a statesman.

Mr. President, thank you very much for agreeing to give us this interview.  Today we have been with President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar al-Assad, and this was “International Review.” I am Yevgeny Primakov, wishing you all the best.

President Assad: Thank you.

Other recent interviews:

Assad to Paris Match: France Should Return to International Law

President Assad’s Banned Interview with Rai 24: Europe Key Perpetrator of Terror in Syria

Assad Discusses Belt and Road, US Aggression, with China’s Phoenix Television

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Syrian MP to Al-Ahed: Erdogan Is Not Reliable

By Ali Hassan

Damascus – The Syrian army has once again retaken the city of Saraqeb from the grasp of terrorists. But the scene on the battlefield remains complicated amid ongoing air and ground battles that the Syrian army is waging against the Turkish military and its terrorist factions.

Two days remain until the meeting between Russia’s Presidents Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the meantime, rival parties are seeking to improve their negotiating position through gains on the battlefield. But some say that the disengagement between Syria and Turkey will not come from Moscow but from Tehran.

Muhannad Al-Haj Ali, member of the Syrian People’s Assembly, tells Al-Ahed news that developments in recent days in Idlib are “a direct Turkish interference alongside the terrorist groups.” 

“Despite that, the Syrian army was able to recover Saraqeb because what it basically did was an evacuation and relocation operation to withdraw terrorists and place them in a designated targeting area,” Al-Haj Ali said.  

“Following all these battlefield developments, Erdogan needs to get down from the tree he climbed or for someone to give him a ladder to descend because of his statements that were for internal consumption. He is unable to enter into a direct war with Syria and its allies, which will be at the regional level. For Russia is Syria’s strategic partner. Turkey and the latter have no commercial relationship at all. It has no relations with Damascus, especially since the Turks are part of NATO – both have lied and manipulated the agreements they signed with Russia regarding Idlib,” the Syrian official adds.

“The US is pushing Erdogan to penetrate deeper into Syria because it wants to extend the life of the war in all respects. But that will be countered by the Syrian state’s strategic decision to liberate all the Syrian soil. All the while, the Turkish army does not have the effectiveness that the Syrian army gained from the experiences of years of war,” he explained. “There is an Iranian role that will soon serve as a lifeline for Erdogan, who is still lying, and will stop him from entering a regional war. Of course, his interests in the region will be within Syria’s range of fire if that war takes place.”

Al-Haj Ali points out that “Erdogan’s greatest argument for interfering in Syria and occupying its lands is the Syrian Kurds, but the situation in Idlib is different. And there are no Kurds there. All of Turkey’s colonial ambitions become clear here.” 

“Syria will not allow it to occupy a single part of the country. The solution is to return to the Adana Agreement but with its development and modernization as there are thirty thousand foreign terrorists on the Turkish borders threatening Syria’s national security. Syria does not trust Erdogan, and Russia has also reached a stage of lacking confidence in him,” Al-Haj Ali said.  

He reveals that discussions on March 5 will focus “on the battlefield and logistical matters.” 

“Political matters are not expected to be touched upon in any way that would help with the pacification of terrorist groups in Idlib. Syria previously agreed to 17 ceasefires in Idlib, all of which were violated by the terrorist groups supported by Erdogan. So, this man has become unreliable and no political progress is expected to be made with him.”

Al-Haj Ali concludes his interview with Al-Ahed by predicting that the solution will come from Iran because members of the anti-terror alliance exchange political roles. “We notice that Russia is escalating, while a calm Iran is working to achieve the basic goal of resolving the thorny issue. Through its dealings with Turkey, Iran is proposing some initiatives to resolve the clashes in Idlib.”

Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Ansarullah is the front line, not China-Russia

March 02, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

During the last days, we saw dramatic changes in the Syrian situation. For the fourth time in the last years, Turkey invaded Syria. But the actual invasion is quite different since it is directly targeted against the Syrian army. This was confirmed, on March 1, by the Turkish defense minister and, on March 2, by Erdogan.

The Turkish aggression is carried out by thousands of troops, by thousands of military vehicles, and by air forces, including a significant number of armed drones. Concerning the concrete situation on the ground, there are different narratives. Apparently, on February 27, over thirty of invading Turkish military personnel were killed by a strike coming from Syria, Russia, or both; these Turkish military personnel were mixed with terrorist forces and therefore difficult to discern. Subsequently, there was obviously some confusion among the Syrian side and its allies, which allowed the Turkish army to make some important casualties.

In the last weeks, the Syrian Army had made big progresses against he terrorists around Idleb. The latter were on the brink of complete collapse. Turkey did not want to accept their defeat and this was the reason for the Turkish aggression. It is certainly true that Turkey was an ally of the terrorist forces in Syria during the whole war. But this time, the Turkish army fights directly together with the terrorists against the Syrian army. This has created a new situation, even if it is not yet a full-scale war; for example, some of the so-called Turkish „observation posts“ are surrounded by the Syrian army, but were not attacked.

The Syrian army is quickly adapting to the new situation. In particular, on March 2, the crucial city Saraqeb (on the junction of the two highways M4 and M5) could be recaptured from the Turkish and terrorist forces. The Syrians have declared a no-fly-zone over the region (Russian planes being the unique exception) and they are bringing more air defense systems to the front, in order to confront the Turkish air attacks. It also seems that the Syrian army has decided to postpone the liberation of the M4 between Saraqeb and Lattakia in order to concentrate on the more essential M5 between Damascus and Aleppo.

Hezbollah has lost some fighters by the Turkish aggression. On March 1, a massive funeral with thousands of people was hold in Beirut. On February 29, for the first time, the Iranian Advisory Center in Syria published a statement, warning the Turkish side of „the great risks of continuing the aggression against Syria“. We can conclude that these close allies of the Syrian army also adjust their position, closely monitoring the new developments.

Since Russia decided in 2015, on the request of the Syrian government, to actively support the Syrian army, it was always clear that the aim was the fight against terrorism. There is no doubt that Russia will continue with these politics. On the other hand, with respect to the Turkish invasion, it is not to expect that Russia will militarily intervene directly. Of course, Russia will defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, but merely on the political and diplomatic level. However, there will be some major grey zone since the fight against terrorism cannot simply be distinguished from the fight against the Turkish invaders.

Very probably, the planned meeting (March 5) between Putin and Erdogan in Moscow will not resolve the problem of the Turkish invasion. One may expect that Putin will put some red lines in order to avoid a full-scale war between Syria and Turkey. Moreover, he will insist that the Syrian side is the just side. But Russia cannot handle the Turkish aggression. This is a problem between Turkey on the one hand and Syria, together with her regional allies, on the other hand. China will have a similar position. There will be diplomatic, economical, and some political support for Syria from China, but not much more, at least not openly.

I think that it is completely wrong to criticize Russia or China for these positions. They are not the masters of an alternative world. They cannot dictate a political agenda. They have neither the strength nor the intention of doing so. No country should expect that its problems will be solved by China and/or Russia. It is also wrong to see Putin as the one big infallible chess player who holds the reins. As leader of his country he has his point of view just as the leaders of the other players have their point of view. Nobody is in the possession of the absolute truth. However, the history of Russia and China shows that these countries are loyal to her allies and do not exchange them like clothes. As permanent members of the Security Council they will defend the interests of Syria. But they will continue to have as good as possible relations with USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

China and Russia are strong and influential countries, but the creation of a post-Western world needs quite a few other countries. Militarily speaking, the current front line between the Western empires and the new world is in the Middle East (West Asia). On the one hand, we have the aggressive countries USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. The other side is represented by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Ansarullah (Yemen). One may add some forces in Iraq. At present, these are the regions were the sharpest fights took place. The impulses and the directives for these forces do not come from Russia nor from China. They come from the Middle East herself.

Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Ansarullah all have their proper strength, experience, autonomy, and leadership. Each one has achieved great successes against mighty enemies. Of course, they collaborate and there is much mutual support. The victories of each are also the victories of all. With the Turkish invasion in Syria, they are confronted with a new task. But Turkey is not as strong as it seems. Politically, the country is divided and Erdogan has not at all the support of the whole people for his invasion. His supporters are merely ultra-nationalists and fascists. Moreover, his aggressive politics in the region (Syria, Iraq, Libya, Cyprus, Greece) has not produced many friends. His politics seem to be utterly adventurous. And militarily speaking, Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran are experimented opponents. I am very confident that Erdogan will suffer a shameful defeat. The Syrian nation and people have already showed that they are able of immense sacrifices, that they are heroic fighters and great patriots.

The reactions on Soleimani’s assassination have changed the Middle East. Erdogan will not be able to stop this movement. His government has chosen the wrong side. The „new“ Middle East is modifying the relations with all other countries. The world should get used to a new Middle East: more autonomous, more self-confident, stronger. Which is very valuable for the whole planet.

Erdogan Asks Trump to Supply Turkey With Munitions for Idlib Op

09:55 GMT 04.03.2020(updated 10:52 GMT 04.03.2020)

by Tim Korso

US special representative for Syria James Jeffrey previously announced that Washington would only be aiding Ankara’s military operation in Syria’s Idlib Province by supplying it with ammunition and providing humanitarian assistance, citing Turkey’s status as a NATO ally.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shared that he asked US President Donald Trump to aid Turkey in its military operation in Syria’s Idlib by supplying ammunition to its forces deployed there. He also expressed hope that upcoming talks with Moscow on the situation in the province will result in an “immediate ceasefire in Syria”.

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper stated on 2 March that the US will not be providing any air support to Turkey’s military operation Spring Shield in Idlib, but admitted that humanitarian support was discussed in the White House. Later, US special representative for Syria James Jeffrey, said that apart from humanitarian support, Washington will be supplying Ankara’s forces with ammunition as a NATO ally.

Clashes in Idlib

The tensions in Syria’s Idlib Province escalated after local terrorist groups, like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham*, intensified attacks on Syrian government positions, sometimes under the cover of Turkish artillery fire. Damascus’ forces responded to these attacks with Turkish soldiers getting caught in the cross fire.

Turkey vowed to retaliate for the attack on its forces and initiated the military campaign Spring Shield, which allegedly aims to force the Syrian Army to retreat to the positions, set in the 2018 Sochi agreements.

Syrian army units advance in the town of al-Eis in south Aleppo province on February 9, 2020, following battles with rebels and jihadists
© AFP 2020 / -Syrian army units advance in the town of al-Eis in south Aleppo province on February 9, 2020, following battles with rebels and jihadists

Russia said it took all the necessary steps to prevent further Syrian Army fire following the first reports of casualties among Turkish forces, who were not supposed to be in the positions that the Syrians targeted. Moscow further condemned Ankara for failing to fulfil its obligations under the Sochi agreements and differentiate between terrorists and so-called moderate opposition in Idlib.

Turkey claims to have fulfilled all of its obligations under the Sochi agreements and instead accused Damascus of violating them by crossing the de-militarisation zones, despite the Syrian Army doing so to repel attacks by terrorists in Idlib.

Syrian Air Forces L-39

During the talks, which took place in 2018 in Sochi, Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iran agreed to create several zones of de-escalation, three of them controlled by the Syrian Army and one, located in Idlib Province and parts of neighbouring Hama, Latakia, and Aleppo provinces, controlled by numerous militant groups, most of them part of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham*.

*Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (also known as Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or al-Qaeda in Syria) are terrorist organisations banned in Russia

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Erdogan Launches anti-Greece Propaganda; Seeks More Support for War Crimes in Syria

March 3, 2020 Miri Wood

Erdogan has launched an anti-Greece propaganda campaign while simultaneously seeking more support for his war crimes against Syria. Days after the caliph-wannabe gave free bus rides to thousands of alleged refugees to the Greek border, Turkey released refugee porn videos meant to make Greece hated by the Mockingbird west.

Last week, after the Syrian Arab Army put out the lights of 37 Turkish regime military invaders who had come to help al Qaeda in Idlib, madman Erdogan got the NATO klan at the UN to hold back-to-back meetings in support of his war crimes and in support of al Qaeda.
Article 4: When NATO tribesmen gather to cluck over an aggrieved member, in this case, Turkey who was enraged that Syria defended itself from criminal invaders. Article 5 is when the tribesmen bond via joint bombing (basically, a bullying operation).
Erdogan called for, and received an Article 4 meeting of NATO tribesmen, with the goal of moving it into a bellicose Article 5 meeting. Greece wanted some guarantees regarding Turkey’s dumping of refugees at Greece’s border. France, the US, UK, and Germany refused, followed by Greece tossing in the proverbial monkey wrench.
Erdogan claims to have dumped 18,000 alleged refugees at Greece’s doorstep; some photos suggest about 10,000 have arrived. Coincidentally, they are all men, and men of a particular age.
Men, however, simply do not cut the mustard when it comes to the needs of the refugee porn junkies, who self-titillate with self-righteous tears for women and baby refugees, and who will devour any amount of snake oil propaganda for such a fix.
Therefore, a video was produced, allegedly at the Greek border, of a screaming woman, allegedly a mother, and two screaming babies, who were intentionally manhandled to make them scream.
The backstory was that mean Greece had showered them with tear gas, though no gas was visible. Somehow, the video was supposed to make Greece look bad, and Turkey look good, even though it was Turkey who sent these alleged refugees packing.
What was ”heart wrenching” was the abuse of toddlers, & the psycho banshee fake mom.
Masih Alinjad is an alleged feminist/Iranian dissident who lives in NYC, who has worked for the CIA’s Voice of America, ‘Persian Service,’ and who does photo ops with Mike ‘Lied, Cheated, Stole’ Pompeo, and Madeline ‘Five Hundred Thousand Dead Iraqi Babies Was Worth It’ Albright.
To some extent, it is ”heart-wrenching” to see the disgusting White Helmets fake rescue scenes recycled to the alleged border of Greece. This 23 second video clip is the same grizzly script, without the white helmets and without the Hollywood make-up.
It is ”heart-wrenching” that anyone would tolerate this criminal propaganda and not condemn the standard terrifying of babies to make them scream, the ‘hand-off’ repetition of passing crying babies from aggressive men who shake them, yank their clothing up so that they will be chilled, and then run off with them into the netherworld.
Every bit of this obscenity is made worse by the addition of the fake mother who allows her babies to be rough-handled by strange men — shirt pulled up in chilly weather; pummeled on back; practically held upside down — while she screams like a psychotic banshee and flails about like she suffers from asterixis and disappears into nothingness as strange men go for the Olympic medals in the 500 meter sprint.
The Child Abuse at the Border has been an ongoing refugee porn motif, particularly when barbed wired is involved, moms are missing, and men touch babies and children inappropriately and/or in hazardous positions.
Generally the children are done in stills, and nobody questions the abuse.
In interesting coordination by NATO stenographer journalism, and NATO-supported NGOs, the ugly video provided by the friend of Pompeo and Albright, who works for one of the CIA cut-outs, was used prelude to the second deification of Turkey and demonization of Greece, on Monday.
Along came — surprise! — The Syria Campaign to confirm the fraudulent ‘tear gas’ video which shows no tear gas, merely the torment of babies, before sharing another Erdogan’s Turkey scam video, as reported by the WaPo Berlin desk director.
How convenient that Turkey released an edited video of a ridiculous dinghy.
The viralized, edited, video showed cuts of Greece’s Coast Guard: Pushing the dinghy away with a pole; appearing to make waves near the dinghy; firing shots into the water near to the dinghy.
Somehow, the NATO stenographers did not marvel at how overstuffed with humanity was the dinghy; even a decent motor would die out from the weight if it tried to travel any distance. Somehow, the NATO propaganda pimps did not consider that the distance from even the closest part of Turkey and Greece would still be impossible to reach.
UK’s Daily Mail pretends it’s naive enough to believe Turkey just happened to be nearby, just happened to take the [edited] video, just happened to rescue the immigrants Erdogan bragged about turning loose on Greece.
Though Greece has previously, sporadically, been demonized by the media, the stenographers have chosen the side of NATO Turkey over NATO Greece’s right to defend its borders. It has begun to snowball. The more Greece is demonized, the bigger the halo painted on Turkey’s madman, Erdogan.
Over 16 million results.
Bloomberg first diminishes Greece, then spreads Erdogan propaganda against it.
Men sent to Greece’s border by Erdogan start fires at the checkpoint. What other intimidation tactics will they use?
It is of note that uncorroborated reports claim that Turkish police have escorted criminals to the Greek border, when one considers this video that shows Turkish police firing tear gas:
Τούρκοι αστυνομικοί ρίχνουν δακρυγόνα στην Ελληνική πλευρά.
Η χώρα δέχεται εισβολή. Το βίντεο τα λέει όλα!!
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It has been suggested that Greece repatriate Syrians, who can then be offered reconciliation. As of Monday, however, of 98 persons arrested by the Greek Border Patrol, none was identified as Syrian.
Monday’s media attacks against Greece, at the behest of Turkey which admits to supplying one of the two videos, also pours a foundation for whatever new criminal hoax is being cooked up in Istanbul, with the visit of Kelly Craft, US Ambassador to the UN, and James Jeffrey, fake ambassador of the invisible embassy that does not exist in Damascus (though his paycheck, courtesy of the American taxpayer, is quite real). The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab joins them, today.
Surprisingly, France appears not to be joining this conspiratorial meeting, this breach of International Law, of the UN Charter. These unindicted criminals plot a way to better support Erdogan’s illegal military operations in Syria, plot a way to circumvent UNSCR 2504, the ugly compromise which slightly decreased the affront to Syria’s sovereignty that they could have vetoed.
American taxpayers will be thrilled to know that while their cities crumble, they scramble to keep a roof over their heads, CrowdFund to pay medical bills, and are now told they may not be covered for the Coronavirus, that President Donald J. Trump has found another $108 million to add to the $10 billion already provided, allegedly for humanitarian aid, though every time the SAA frees an area from al Qaeda terrorists, millions of dollars in abandoned NATO weapons are found.
If the US stood with “the people of Syria,” it would not arm and fund al Qaeda in the SAR. It would also not support the crazed president of Turkey.
The world knows that Trump is fiercely protective of US territorial integrity. He breaches Syria’s borders with impunity. He supports Turkey’s illegal incursions into Syria.
In supporting Turkey, he shows his contempt also for Greece, also a NATO ally.
— Miri Wood

«درع الربيع» التركيّة عدوان لن يحقّق أهدافه

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

للمرة الرابعة تطلق تركيا عملية عسكرية عدوانية ضدّ سورية من أجل احتلال أرض منها وتهجير شعبها وإجراءات تغيير ديمغرافي فيها تمهيداً لضمّها، الضمّ الذي تحلم به وتراه تطبيقاً لما تسمّيه «الميثاق الملي التركي الذي يعطيها الحق كما تدّعي بمثل عمليات الضمّ تلك لقطاع واسع من الأرض العربية من الموصل في العراق شرقاً الى إدلب في سورية غرباً وحلب ما بينهما أيضاً. فهل سيحقق هذا العدوان المتجدّد بصيغته وعنوانه ذاك أهدافه؟

لقد أدخلت تركيا من أجل تنفيذ عدوانها هذا ما يناهز الـ 15 ألف عسكري تركي من جيشها المصنّف الثاني في الحلف الأطلسي بعد الجيش الأميركي، واتخذت من مخرجات استانة وتفاهمات ستوشي غطاء لعملها العسكري العدواني وعوّلت او على الأقلّ هكذا أظهر أردوغان، عوّلت على دعم الحلف الأطلسي لها، وقدرتها على تحييد روسيا، ومنع إيران من التدخل في المعركة لاستفراد سورية وجيشها وهي تظنّ انّ هذا الجيش أيّ الجيش العربي السوري بات منهكاً بعد 9 سنوات من المعارك المتواصلة ولن يقوى على الصمود بوجهها.

وهنا لا بدّ من أن ننوّه بأننا وكثيرون ممن تابع الأحداث والمواجهات بين الجيش السوري والإرهابيين الذين يلقون كامل الدعم والإسناد من تركيا التي تتخذهم أداة لتحقيق أحلامها في السيطرة واقتطاع أرض سورية كما ذكرنا، اننا كنا نستبعد أن تجري مواجهة مباشرة بين تركيا وسورية يخوضها جيشا البلدين على الأرض السورية، وكنا نقول إنّ مثل هذه المواجهة لا يمكن ان تحصل الا إذا ارتكب أردوغان فعلاً جنونياً وفجوراً وقحاً وأسقط القناع كلياً عن وجهه وجازف بموقعه في منظومة الرعاية في استانة. ويبدو أنّ اردوغان فعل كلّ ذلك وزجّ بجيشه في الميدان وقرّر مواجهة الجيش العربي السوري من دون أن يحسب حساباً لأيّ عاقبة ومفعول. فإلى أين يقود أردوغان تركيا والمنطقة وماذا بإمكانه أن يحقق؟

قد يكون أردوغان قد قاسَ عملية «درع الربيع» الجديدة على عمليات «غصن الزيتون» أو «درع الفرات» أو «نبع السلام» السابقة التي نفذها على الأرض السورية، لكنه هنا أخطأ الحساب جيداً. ففي تلك السابقة كان يواجه عصابات كردية لا تملك المشروعيّة ولا القوّة التي تمكنها من منع أردوغان من تنفيذ خططه، ومع ذلك كانت تصمد بوجهه بعض الوقت، وتعرقل تقدّمه وتوقع في تشكيلاته بعض الخسائر وتجعل من التنفيذ مكلفاً وفي سقف أدنى من المطلوب تركياً، أما عمليته الرابعة هذه فكلّ ما فيها مختلف كالتالي:


ـ ينفذ أردوغان عدوان «درع الربيع» ضدّ سورية وجيشها. وهو جيش ليس كما يعتقد او يتصوّر أردوغان، فالجيش العربي السوري وبعد 9 سنوات من القتال المتعدّد الأشكال والظروف هو جيش محترف عالي المعنويات مسانَد من قوى حليفة، ويخوض المعارك اليوم وفي جعبته الكمّ الكبير من الانتصارات والإنجازات والخبرات. جيش يملك إرادة النصر مهما كانت العراقيل. ثم أنّ المواجهة مع هذا الجيش وعلى أرضه تسقط أيّ مشروعية لعدوان أردوغان وتمنع أيّ تبرير لها. أيّ انّ ظرف القتال التركي مناقض لما كان في العمليّات الثلاث السابقة التي كان يدّعي فيها إنه يقاتل ضدّ الإرهاب حماية للأمن القومي التركي، حيث إنه هنا يعمل مع الإرهاب لانتهاك الأمن القومي السوري وضدّ وحدة سورية وسيادتها المؤكد عليها في كلّ وثيقة أو نص أو قرار يتناول الشأن السوري.


ـ يواجه أردوغان في سورية محور المقاومة برمّته، وقد كان لافتاً بيان المركز الاستشاري الإيراني في دمشق الذي أضاء على طبيعة معركة إدلب ومنطقتها بين الأتراك وجبهة الدفاع عن سورية. وهو بيان يصدر للمرة الأولى عن هذا المركز رغم أنّ دعم محور المقاومة واشتراكه في القتال الدفاعي مع الجيش العربي السوري بدأ منذ العام 2013 ولم يصدر بيان إيراني به، فقد شاءت إيران اليوم وعلانية أن تقول لأردوغان أنت تواجهنا، وصحيح أنّ إيران لا زالت تتمسك بالعمل السياسي مع تركيا لحلّ الأزمة السورية، فإنّ ذلك لا يعني أنها تتردّد في المواجهة العسكرية عندما يمارس أردوغان خداعاً أو استغلالاً. ولهذا شاركت وأعلنت أنّ الحرس الثوري الإيراني وحزب الله اللبناني هما في الميدان جنباً الى جنب مع الجيش السوري ومن يريد الفهم عليه ان يفهم ما أرادت إيران من البيان هذا.


ـ أما روسيا التي طلب منها أردوغان البقاء بعيداً عن المعركة وتركه ليصفي حساباته مع الرئيس الأسد منفرداً، فأعتقد أنه طلب لن يلقى آذاناً صاغية لديها، حيث إنّ لروسيا مصالح في سورية أكبر من تلك المصالح التي تربطها بتركيا، وقد يتجه الروسي للعمل بلون رمادي يوحي بأنه يحافظ على العلاقة مع أردوغان إلا أنّ هذا التساهل معه لا يمكن أن يصل الى حدّ التخلي عن سورية ووقف دعمها الذي له أهداف ذات صلة بالأمن القومي الروسي لا يفاوض بوتين عليها مع أحد.


ـ ويبقى الدعم الغربي المعوّل عليه تركياً والذي يلجأ أردوغان للابتزاز من أجله بلعب ورقة النازحين السوريين لديه، فأعتقد أنه لن يحصل ولن يجد أردوغان في عدوانه «درع الربيع» دعماً أطلسياً أوروبياً أو أميركياً أكثر من الدعم اللفظي الكلامي والتأييد الدبلوماسي والسياسي. فأردوغان ينفذ عدواناً على الغير ولا يتعرّض لعدوان الغير عليه، واتفاقية الحلف الأطلسي في موادها الرابعة والخامسة تفرض المساعدة من الأعضاء لبعضهم بعضاً عندما يتعرّض العضو لعدوان على أرضه ولا تتيح المساعدة في حال كان هو المعتدي. ولأجل ذلك ورغم الاجتماعات والاتصالات الثنائية بقي الدعم الأطلسي لأردوغان في عدوانه بعيداً عن تقديم أو الوعد بتقديم الدعم العسكري الميدانيّ.

لكلّ ذلك ورغم أنّ أردوغان قام بفعل جنونيّ متهوّر واتجه للمواجهة مع الجيش العربي السوري ظاناً انّ هذه المواجهة ستحقق له بعضاً من أحلامه، فإننا نرى أنّ جنون أردوغان لن ينبت مكاسب له ولن يمكنه من حصاد يرضيه سوى الخيبة والفشل وفقدان ما تحقق له من مكاسب في الميدان سابقاً وفي سوتشي واستانة حاضراً، وسيندم أردوغان على حماقته وجنونه ضدّ الجيش العربي السوري إيّما ندامة.

أستاذ جامعي وباحث استراتيجي.

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South Front

Units of the Russian Military Police entered the town of Saraqib in eastern Idlib following the second liberation of the town from al-Qaeda terrorists and Turkish forces. According to the Russian military, the deployment took place at 5:00pm local time on March 2 and was intended to provide security and allow traffic through the M4 and M5 highways. In fact, the Russians came to put an end to Turkish attempts to capture the town and cut off the M5 highway in this area.

At the same time, the Syrian Army repelled attempts of al-Qaeda and Turkish forces to capture the town of Kafr Nubl in southern Idlib and recaptured several nearby villages, including Hazarin and Dar al-Kabirah. According to pro-government sources, at least 15 units of military equipment belonging to Turkish proxies were destroyed in the recent operations. The Turkish side responded to the developments on the ground with a new batch of victorious statements.

According to the March 2 remarks by Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the number of ‘neutralized’ Syrian troops since the start of Operation Spring Shield reached 2,557. This is approximately 350 Syrian soldiers higher than was claimed on March 1. The main question is: “Does the Turkish defense minister really believe in the numbers that he provides?” It probably would be useful to not make such claims personally. Thus, he would be able to avoid blushing with shame. If the Syrian Army really suffers such casualties in only a few days, Turkish-led forces would easily achieve their declared goal of expelling Syrian troops of southern and eastern Idlib.

In reality, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is going to Moscow on March 5 in order to negotiate a ceasefire. “My only wish is to end this struggle with victory and prevent further bloodshed, with a permanent cease-fire. For this, we are using all our diplomatic channels, along with our struggle in the field,” Erdogan told a gathering of ruling Justice and Development Party officials.

So, just a few days ago supporters of the Turkish operation were claiming that the mighty Turkish forces had already defeated the Assad regime and would soon enter the cities of Damascus and Aleppo. Now, the same sources are admiring the clever and forward-looking policy of the Turkish leader not to escalate the situation any further.

It would appear that things are not going the Turkish way in Idlib. When Erdogan and Putin reach another ceasefire, which will formally put an end to Ankara’s goal to push the Syrian Army out of the recently cleared areas, the same sources will likely declare this a Turkish victory. The 2nd strongest army in NATO appeared to be not capable of defeating Syrian forces, which are exhausted by a nearly 10-year long conflict, without suffering unacceptable losses.

The balance of power in Greater Idlib has once again changed. If the Turkish Army does not achieve some unexpected breakthrough, for example the capture of Maarat al-Numan, immediately, the main efforts of Turkish diplomacy will likely be focused on reaching an agreement that would prevent a Syrian advance on Idlib. This city is the main stronghold of al-Qaeda and the last really large urban center in the hands of militant groups in the region. The fall of Idlib into the hands of the Syrian Army would destroy all Turkish hopes to solidify its own influence in this part of Syria.

However, even a Russian-Turkish deal on Idlib city will likely not put an end to the anti-terrorism efforts of the Syrian Army and its allies. The town of Jisr al-Shughur, located near the M4 highway, is among possible targets of the upcoming operations. The town is currently controlled by the Turkistan Islamic Party, an al-Qaeda-linked group consisting of foreigners. So, mainstream media outlets can start preparing to defend another group of ‘moderate rebels’ that would be oppressed by the brutal Assad regime.

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مصير أردوغان في سراقب

ناصر قنديل

يعرف الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان أنه لو بقي صامتاً أمام تقدم الجيش السوري في حملته التي حررت الطريق الدولي بين حلب ودمشق، واتجه في حملة ثانية لتحرير طريق اللاذقية حلب، لكان المقرّر للعمليات العسكرية فتح باب مصير مدينة إدلب عبر تطويقها، ومنح النظام التركي دوراً في سحب السلاح الثقيل منها والتمهيد لحل سياسي يقضي بتسيير دوريات روسية تركية فيها، لأنه يعرف بالحرف والنقطة والفاصلة ما تمّ الاتفاق عليه في اللقاءات التي جمعته بالرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، وبالتفاهمات التي أنجزها عسكريّوه مع العسكريين الروس. كما يعرف بالنقطة والفاصلة والحرف أن العملية العسكرية جاءت بعدما تلكأ أو أعلن عجزه عن تنفيذ ما تعهّد به بالنسبة للطريقين الدوليين ومصير الجماعات الإرهابيّة الممسكة بهما.

تحرّك أردوغان عسكرياً، لأنه وقع ضحيّة الفخ الذي ورّطه به الأميركيون عندما أبلغوه أنهم يهمون بالانسحاب من المنطقة انطلاقاً من أفغانستان، وأنهم يعتمدون عليه لملء الفراغ في سورية بعد انسحابهم منها، وأن عليه الإمساك جيداً بالمناطق الشمالية الغربية ليتسنى له الدخول إلى المناطق الشمالية الشرقية حيث تتمركز القوات الأميركية، فانقلب على التفاهمات بعدما أدرك أن الانتصارات العسكرية للجيش السوري المدعوم بالنيران الروسية وبالمشاركة الفعالة من قوى المقاومة قد نتج عنها انهيار شامل في وضع الجماعات الإرهابية، وبات تدحرجُ الانتصارات يهدد بسقوط الإمارة التي بناها للجماعات التابعة لتنظيم القاعدة تحت رعايته، فبدأ بزج قواته لمنحها المعنويات اللازمة للصمود، وعندما اكتشف عدم كفاية ذلك قرّر دخول المعركة إلى جانبها أو بالنيابة عنها، إذا اقتضى الأمر.

كان واضحاً لأردوغان أن روسيا ليست على الحياد، وأنها تقف مع الجيش السوري في مواجهة الجماعات الإرهابية، وتتفهم رفض سورية للوجود التركي على أراضيها ووصفه بالاحتلال، كما كان واضحاً له أن الدعم الأميركي والأطلسي لن يتخطى حدود التشجيع السياسي، لكنه كان يظن أن وقف تقدّم الجيش السوري في ظل هاتين المعادلتين ممكن، وأن تحقيق نصر معنوي وجغرافي يقطع طريق مواصلة النصر متاح، وأن فرض هذا الأمر في الواقع الميداني، يقع في منطقة رمادية يمكن ألا تضعه في مواجهة شاملة مع روسيا، وألا تختبر سلبية الأطلسي بصورة فاضحة، بل ربما تستنهض الأطلسي من جهة، وتفتح الباب لرهانات جديدة، ولمساعٍ سياسية روسية تنطلق من الوقائع التي فرضتها المعارك.

المعركة التي كان يحتاجها أردوغان محدودة في المكان والزمان، مطلوب أن تكون ذات قيمة استراتيجية، وأن تُحسم خلال أيام، ولذلك كانت سراقب. فسراقب نقطة تقاطع الطريقين الدوليين بين حلب وحماة وحلب واللاذقية، وسراقب أبرز مدن محافظة إدلب، وتتخطّى أهميتها الاستراتيجية إدلب نفسها بكثير، والرهان على طائرات الدرون المسيّرة من الجيل الخامس في التمهيد للهجوم، وبالقصف المدفعي الكثيف وإعطاء الأمر لوحدات الكوماندوس تساندها نخبة جماعات جبهة النصرة والشيشان والتركستان والإيغور للتقدّم بسرعة ووحشية وعنف وضراوة، وهذا ما تمّ على مدى ثلاثة أيام متتالية، سقط خلالها عشرات الشهداء للجيش السوري وحزب الله والحلفاء، وتحقق للقوات التركية وحلفائها من الجماعات الإرهابية المتنوّعة خرقاً مهماً في جبهات سراقب. وحملت صور الفيديو المسجّلة عمليات فاضحة لنوعية المهاجمين وارتكاباتهم، فظهرت شعارات داعش واضحة لعناصر يتنقلون بمدرعات الجيش التركيّ، وظهر الجنود الأتراك وهم يحزّون رؤوس الشهداء، ويقطعون أوصالهم.

خلال أربع وعشرين ساعة كانت المعركة الفاصلة، وقال فيها الجيش السوري وحزب الله وقوى المقاومة كلمتهم الفاصلة، ومعهم النار الروسية، خلافاً لما يتمّ ترويجه عن تخلٍّ روسي في المعركة، وحسمت المعركة بين منتصف ليل أول أمس وفجر أمس، وعادت كامل المدينة إلى عهدة الجيش السوري، وسقط حلم أردوغان، فعاد للحديث عن وقف للنار؛ بينما الجيش السوري يمشّط سراقب، ويواصل تقدّمه على جبهات جبل الزاوية ضمن خطة عملياته لفتح طريق اللاذقية حلب، وربما ينجح بإحداث إنجاز كبير قبل أن يحين موعد قمة أردوغان مع الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، الذي سيفاوض من موقع القوة بعد فشل الخطة التي توهّم أردوغان أنها ستدخله على حصان أبيض للقاء بوتين، والأهم هو ما قالته المعركة من نتائج حول توازن القوة بين الجيش السوري من جهة، وثاني جيوش الناتو من جهة مقابلة، في صورة تشبه معارك جنوب لبنان خلال عدوان تموز 2006، وتستعيد اسم ستالينغراد في الحرب العالمية الثانية.

ظهر الجيش السوريّ ومعه قوى المقاومة كجيش لا يُقهر مرة أخرى، وظهر أردوغان كأحمق لا يتقن فنون الحرب والسياسة مرة أخرى أيضاً.

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South Front

Turkey and Syria are in a state of undeclared war. Ankara shied away to declare the war officially and the scale of its operations is much lower than in the event of a full-scale open conflict. However, Turkish forces, including troops, battle tanks and artillery, illegally entered Greater Idlib, provided local al-Qaeda-linked groups with weapons and equipment, and together with them attacked the Syrian Army.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had the audacity to describe these actions as self-defense efforts. He claimed that Operation Spring Shield, as Ankara calls its action in Idlib, was launched in response to the February 27 attack on Turkish troops and the operation is in his words “successfully” ongoing. Akar forgot to mention that the killed Turkish personnel were embedded with al-Qaeda members and already involved in attacks on forces of the Syrian government. This kind of hypocrisy is not surprising. Earlier, Turkish President Recept Tayip Erdogan claimed that the Turkish military had entered Syria under a request from the “Syrian people”; apparently he wanted to say al-Qaeda but forgot how to pronounce the names of the multiple Syrian affiliates of the group properly.

Therefore, official Turkish propaganda claims that the military action in Idlib started after February 27, while in reality clashes between Turkish-led forces and the Syrian Army have been ongoing since February 24. In the period from February 24 to March 1, the Turkish Army and radical militants captured Nayrab, Saraqib, and stopped the Syrian Army advance near Kafr Nabul recapturing several small villages near it. However, they were not able to achieve any military breakthrough on the ground.

The Turkish military tries to avoid sending its troops into an open fight. Rather, it employs waves of al-Qaeda members, including suicide bombers, supported by massive artillery and drone strikes as the main tool of warfare against the Syrians. According to the March 1 remarks by Defense Minister Akar, Turkish forces had destroyed a drone, 8 helicopters, 103 tanks, 19 armored personnel carriers, 72 artillery pieces and rocket launchers, three air-defense systems, 15 anti-tank weapons and mortars, 56 armored vehicles, nine ammunition depots, and neutralized 2,200 Syrian soldiers in the aforementioned period. Later on the same day, the Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that Turkey had shot down two Su-24 warplanes (later confirmed by the Syrian military) and destroyed 3 air defense systems operated by the Syrian government. The Turkish side even claimed that the Su-24 attack aircraft (which are designed for a close air support) were downed in response to an attempted attack on Turkish aircraft.

This remarkable nonsense highlights the scale and type of Turkish propaganda efforts regarding the conflict. Fully in the framework of this approach, the Turkish state blocked social media on February 27 in an attempt to hide Turkish casualties in Idlib. Tried to force Twitter and Facebook to remove photos of destroyed Turkish military equipment and ordered security raids in the Turkish branch of the Russian news agency Sputnik over its ‘wrong coverage’ of Idlib developments. Videos and photos showing Turkish soldiers and Turkish-backed militants involved in torturing and abusing captured Syrian soldiers come unnoticed by mainstream media or were described by Turkish sources as fake.

In a separate development, Turkish state media announced that Turkish artillery and drones had targeted the Al-Nayrab military airport, on the outskirts of Aleppo city.

In response to these actions, the Syrian military declared that it will shoot down hostile aircraft in Greater Idlib. The Syrian Air Defense Forces immediately turned this promise into reality engaging Turkish unmanned combat and reconnaissance aerial vehicles. According to Russian media, at least 6 Turkish drones were shot down. However, the visual evidence allows to confirm only one Anka combat drone downed in the area. When the video of the drone’s remnants first appeared online, Turkish-backed groups even claimed responsibility for the downing of aircraft claiming that it was a Syrian warplane. Later, they were forced to change the story.

On March 1, the Syrian Army and Hezbollah, that had recently suffered casualties in eastern Idlib, launched an attack on Turkish-led forces in the area of Nayrab. By the evening of that day, they have regained Kafr Battikh, Dadikh, San and Jawbas. They have also forced Turkish-backed militants to retreat from the eastern part of Saraqib. According to pro-government sources, at least 300 militants were killed or injured in the recent clashes in this area only. This number, as well as, those provided by Turkey is overestimated.

On March 2, units of the 25th Special Mission Forces Division (formerly the Tiger Forces) regained full control of Saraqib after the mighty Turkish Army and its al-Qaeda friends had fled the area.

The recent developments demonstrate that if Turkey continues avoiding employing its own troops in direct fighting, its forces appear to be not able to deliver a swift, devastating blow to the Syrian Army and achieve the goal declared by its top leadership: to force Syrian troops to retreat from all the areas liberated from al-Qaeda since October 2018.

It is likely that Turkey is trying to deliver as much damage as possible to strengthen its negotiating position before March 5, when Erdogan is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation in the region.

At the same time, Turkey is trying to get support from the EU by sending migrants to Europe and blackmailing the bloc with a new migration crisis.

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US Will Not Provide Air Support to Turkey in Syria’s Idlib – Pentagon Chief


On Saturday, President Trump said the US had been speaking with President Erdogan of Turkey “a lot” over the situation in Idlib, and confirmed that the two countries were discussing Ankara’s request for the temporary deployment of US Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems.

The United States will not provide air support to Turkey in the wartorn Syrian province of Idlib, Pentagon Chief Mark Esper has said, speaking to reporters in Washington on Monday.

Asked directly if US assistance would include air support, Esper responded bluntly “No.”

“I should add that the the United States is looking at providing increased humanitarian aid for the persons in Syria. That’s one thing I had a conversation with [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] about that,” Esper said.

The secretary of defence also confirmed that he has spoken to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about the situation in Syria, and that NATO was prepared for anything that might happen.

Commenting on Ankara’s recent move to open its borders with the European Union, Esper said that this was Turkey’s decision to make.

Asked what he told his Turkish counterpart Sule Akar during their recent phone call, Esper said the message was that “Russians aren’t always good partners.” 

Also Monday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said there was “no clear, unambiguous intelligence on who was flying which planes” in the deadly attack on Turkish troops in Idlib last week. Earlier, Moscow stressed that the Russian air force was not involved in the strikes in the area of Behun, Idlib where the troops were killed. Later, the MoD-affilliated Center for Syrian Reconciliation clarified that the Turkish forces were hit by Syria as it retaliated to a Nusra* offensive, with the troops operating outside of their observation posts and in the same area as Nusra militants for some reason.

On Saturday, President Trump confirmed that he had discussed Turkey’s request for the temporary deployment of US Patriot missiles in southern Turkey with President Erdogan, adding that the talks were ongoing.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Turkey’s NATO allies to assist the country with air defence and intelligence cooperation.

Idlib tensions exploded in February after the deaths of Turkish military personnel in the course of an ongoing Syrian military offensive against Ankara’s militant proxies. Damascus began its operation in the wayward province in December, after repeated attacks on Syrian troops by jihadist militants.

* a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.


In London for a new round of Imperialism On Trial (February 25, info here), I was on George Galloway’s The Mother Of All Talkshows Sunday night to discuss Syria.

George gives an excellent introduction on the nature of systematic, paid-for, organized, deliberate, war propaganda on Syria, to deceive people and whitewash the nature of the heinous, criminal, actions of the terrorists dubbed by the west as “rebels” who have beheaded children, among other crimes.

He kindly points out that I and others who have been telling the truth on Syria are being vindicated on a daily basis.

During the interview, I noted the media portrayal of what is happening in Syria (incessant demonization of Syria and Russia), and that Syria has a legal right to fight terrorism, and an obligation to the Syrian people to do so. 

Later, I came across an article eloquently outlining this perfectly. Author Stephen Gowans, in his recent article on Idlib, wrote (excerpts):

Erdogan wanted to run Idlib through his Al Qaeda proxies to gain leverage in order to shape the outcome of post-conflict talks on a new political arrangement for Syria. [6] This would allow him to further his Islamist agenda in a neighboring country—he had taken numerous steps to Islamize his own country—and to acquire profit-making opportunities in Syria for Turkish business people.

Erdogan’s plans were soon brought to fruition. By February, 2018, Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the US campaign against ISIS, could call Idlib “the largest al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” [7] The veteran foreign affairs correspondent Robert Fisk would refer to the Syrian province as a territory teeming with “the Islamist fighters of Isis, Nusrah, al-Qaeda and their fellow jihadists.” [8] In September, 2019 The New York Times’ Eric Schmitt said that Idlib province contained “a witch’s brew of violent Islamic extremist groups, dominated by the larger Qaeda-linked organization Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly the Nusra Front.” [9] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham would control 99 percent of Idlib and surrounding areas. [10], creating what Cockburn dubbed an “al-Qaeda-run mini-state” [11]—behind which sat Erdogan, on the Sultan’s throne.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Al Qaeda are one and the same. After undergoing a previous rebranding as Jabhat al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch morphed once again, this time into HTS. As the Syrian delegate to the United Nations, Bashar Ja’afari, explained to the UN Security Council in May,

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham … is the Al-Nusra Front, which itself is part of Al-Qaida in the Levant, which in turn is part of Al-Qaida in Iraq, which in turn is part of Al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Therefore, we are all talking about Al-Qaida, regardless of its different names; all are designated by the [UN Security] Council as terrorist entities. [12]

The Washington Post described Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as “an extremist Islamist group that began as al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and has tried to rebrand itself several times during the war.” [13] The New York Times says Hayat Tahrir al-Sham “is affiliated with Al Qaeda,” [14] while The Wall Street Journal lists the group as “a branch of al Qaeda.” [15]

But of Western mainstream journalists, Cockburn perhaps describes the group best. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, he wrote in early 2019, is “a powerful breakaway faction from Isis which founded the group under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra in 2011 and with whom it shares the same fanatical beliefs and military tactics. Its leaders wear suicide vests studded with metal balls just like their Isis equivalents.” [16]

“In September 2018, Russia and Turkey brokered a cease-fire agreement for Idlib to forestall a military offensive,” explained The Wall Street Journal. “The deal required that” Al Qaeda fighters “withdraw from a demilitarized buffer zone along the front line.” [21] Rather than withdrawing, Al Qaeda expanded areas under its control. [22] while continuing to carry on its fight against the Syrian military. The jihadists attacked Syrian army positions, targeted the Russian airbase at Khmeimim, and shelled towns and villages, “killing civilians and forcing more than 10,000 to flee,” according to the United Nations. [23] Turkey stood by while its proxies violated the cease-fire, failing “to meet its commitment to disarm” its fighters. [24]

In response, the Syrian army, backed by its Russian and Iranian allies, launched an offensive to liberate Idlib. It has done this because Al Qaeda’s attacks have never stopped and because the government of Syria has an obligation to protect its citizens and control its own territory.

When Ja’afari addressed the Security Council in May he asked:

When will it be recognized that the right we are exercising is the same right others have exercised in confronting terrorist attacks against the Bataclan theatre and the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, as well as terrorist acts in Niece, London, Boston and other cities? The terrorists that members have confronted in their own countries were not equipped with Turkish rocket launchers and tanks. [25]

Apart from glossing over such inconvenient facts as the true character of the “armed opposition” and Erdogan’s connection to it, the US news media have failed to address a number of key questions.

First, is it legitimate for a government to use force to recover territory occupied by an armed enemy, even if the use of force endangers civilians or sparks their flight? If the answer is no, then the Allies acted illegitimately during World War II in liberating Europe from Nazi occupation, for their project was impossible without endangering some civilians and creating refugees.

Moreover, if civilian casualties and their displacement were acceptable consequences of US forces taking Raqqa from ISIS—the US defense secretary at the time, James Mattis responded to concerns about the effect of the US siege on civilians by noting that “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation” [26]—how is it that they are an unacceptable in the case of Syrian forces liberating Idlib from Al Qaeda?

A still more basic question is, Is it acceptable to respond in force to attacks from an enemy? The answer is obvious, which may be why it is never asked, for if asked, Syrian military operations against continued Al Qaeda attacks would have to be accepted as legitimate, rather than falsely portrayed as acts of aggression against Syrian civilians.

Third, is Turkey’s presence on Syrian soil legitimate? The answer is categorically in the negative. The invasion of Syria by Turkey and the occupation of part of Syrian territory by Turkish forces is no different in law, politics, or morality than the Nazi invasion of Poland, France, the low countries, the Soviet Union, and so on. It is clearly illegal, and an affront to the ‘rules-based international order’ to which the United, Turkey, and other NATO countries so conspicuously and hypocritically profess allegiance. The invasion and occupation have been carried out in defense of Turkey’s Al Qaeda proxy, and to advance the interests of Turks and Islamists against the interests of Syrians and secularists. Erdogan is no hero, but a villain, whose hands are as maculated by the blood of Al Qaeda’s Syrian victims as are those of his Al Qaeda proxies.

Finally, what are the costs of Al Qaeda’s continued rule over three million Syrians in Idlib? Are they greater than the costs in civilian casualties and displacement of bringing that rule to an end? The US news media have been generally supportive of the immense costs in blood and treasure Washington has incurred to wage its war on Al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. While noting the civilian cost of driving ISIS from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the US news media have never denounced the US war on ISIS as a humanitarian horror story, a term it uses to denounce Syria’s war on Al Qaeda. Instead, ISIS itself is portrayed as a humanitarian horror story, and efforts to undermine and defeat it are welcomed. This should be true too of Syria’s war on Al Qaeda. It is Al Qaeda that is the humanitarian horror story and it is the actions of the Syrian military in undermining and defeating it that ought to be welcomed and met with approbation.

The Syrian military advance to recover Idlib and liberate it from Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization which has imposed a harsh regime of religious intolerance and Islamist despotism on three million Syrians, has not been welcomed by the US news media. Although the campaign is praiseworthy on multiple levels—it recovers national territory held by proxies of a foreign aggressor, and aims to liberate millions of people who have been tyrannized by a rule imposed on them by an organization made up of thousands of foreign fighters—US media, betraying their commitment to US geopolitical agendas, portray the commendable as indefensible. We ought to applaud the actions of the Syrian military, along with those of its Russian and Iranian allies, not deplore them. These actions are blows against reaction, oppression, and foreign aggression, and in defense of democracy on an international level, as well as in the furtherance of the welfare of the Syrian people.


Words of former special envoy, Brett McGurk

Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over 

En route to Abu al-Duhour, Idlib (VIDEO)

American Journalist Killed in Turkey for Revealing the Truth Regarding ISIS-Daesh (Serena Shim)

Liberate Idlib and Syria: The Martyred of Mhardeh Speak Through the Ones They’ve Left Behind

Aleppo City’s Countryside Fully Secured, Syrians in Aleppo Celebrate The End of Terrorism

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi on improved life in Aleppo since liberation (June 2017 VIDEO)

CNN recycles 2018 lies as 2020 lies on Syria

Eastern Ghouta rebuilding

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria

A Personal Reply to the Fact-Challenged Smears of Terrorist-Whitewashing Channel 4, Snopes and La Presse

Under Fire from Ukraine and Misperceived by the West, The People of the DPR Share Their Stories

Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Eva K Bartlett Patreon

The Gangster!


 Sunday, 01 March 2020 07:58

President Erdogan of Turkey has indeed lost what remained of his brain! In a mafia and gang-like show, Erdogan called on Russia, which has been pioneering the fight against terrorism, to get out of his way and allow his occupying forces to invade the more of Syria!

Erdogan, the liar and butcher, claimed in his yesterday hallucinations that the Syrian people demanded him to send his occupying forces , if not thousands of multinational terrorists into Syria!

The Syrians have every legitimate right to defend their country; has Erdogan any right to invade Syria!? Erdogan’s occupation troops were mingled with terrorists, who were too dressed in Turkish military uniforms. Should the Syrian Army and its allies welcome by roses the invading terrorists!

Erdogan’s so-called observation posts, used merely to support and take part in the war of terrorists against Syrians, might be after his crazy threats, legitimate targets. Why should Erdogan take pride in killing many Syrians and  many of their anti-terrorism allies!!? Simply because he himself is a terrorist.

This Ottoman terrorist is but a threat to the entire world. Erdogan the criminal is trying to play the role of a victim! The majority of the Syrians abroad, left in fear of terrorism, want to return back to their country. This terrorist prevents them!

As the Sputnik accurately transmitted, Turkish soldiers invaded Northern Syria. Turkish soldiers were killed while being in Syria. Idlib is not under dispute. It is part of Syria. Turkey is the aggressor nation, not the victim. If we had a fair and balanced media we would all be informed of that salient fact, not set up to support further actions against Syria for the ‘crime’ of trying to repel invaders from its territory.

The classic George Orwell novel ‘1984’ was meant as a warning to society about the destructive and freedom sapping nature of oligarchs and tyrannical nation state, not a user manual for the powerful in the 21st century but recent events in Syria highlight yet again the incredible ability of the rulers of the world in the West to use their compliant and sycophant media to create narratives that belong in fairy tales, not news bulletins.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. These are the three mottos inscribed on the Ministry of Truth building of the nation of Oceania in Orwell’s dystopian 1948 masterpiece which imagined a society of totalitarianism and perpetual war in 1984, thirty five years in the future as Orwell sat in a small farmhouse on the Scottish island of Jura to construct his warning to the world in the post WWII era. Totalitarianism may not be universal or at least recognized as such by all but perpetual war is certainly an underlying feature of the 21st century world. It used to be the case that arms companies were created to feed wars but nowadays wars are created to feed arms companies.

When a sovereign nation is attacked and/or invaded they have an inalienable right to defend themselves and repel invaders. Isn’t it pathetic to witness the brutal suppression of thousands of firefighters and other public service workers by heavily armed police in France for the ‘crime’ of protesting against damaging pension changes reported as legitimate ‘public order’ and ‘crowd control measures’ but actions by the Syrians against terrorists and foreign army invaders as being aggressive and tyrannical?

Our world is indeed more Orwellian by the day. In such an era of lies and distortions those who speak truth to power will be more brutally repressed.

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim   

Turkish drone strikes kill over two dozen Syrian soldiers in Idlib: Monitor

Sunday, 01 March 2020 2:51 AM  [ Last Update: Thursday, 01 March 2012 2:57 AM ]

A picture taken during a guided tour organised by the Syrian army shows government orces in the area of al-Lirmoun, north of Aleppo, on February 17, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish drone strikes have reportedly killed 26 Syrian soldiers in northwestern Syria, in an apparent response to the deaths of 33 Turkish soldiers who were killed on Thursday during a Syrian army offensive against terrorists in Idlib.

“Twenty-six members of the Syrian army were killed when Turkish drones targeted positions of the Syrian government forces in the Idlib and Aleppo countryside,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Saturday.

The apparent retaliation came after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike by Syrian forces on Thursday. A 34th soldier later died from his injuries.

Earlier on Saturday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened reprisals for the killing of dozens of Turkish troops in Syria on Thursday.

With diplomacy sponsored by Ankara and Moscow to ease tensions in tatters, Turkey has come closer than ever to confrontation with Russia on the battlefield in Syria.

Ankara urges Moscow to step aside

The Turkish president says he has asked President Vladimir Putin for Russia to stand aside in Syria and let Turkey fight Syrian forces alone.

Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told Putin in a phone call to stand aside and let Turkey “do what is necessary” with the Syrian government. He said Turkey did not intend to leave Syria right now.Russia cites Syria agreement but Erdogan sounds belligerentRussia says it has agreed with Turkey to ease tensions in Syria

Meanwhile, the Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, have kept up air strikes in Idlib, attacking the strategic city of Saraqeb which sits on an important road connecting Damascus and Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory war monitor reported.

The Syrian army’s air strikes are part of a major offensive to cleanse the province, part of the last remaining territory held by Turkey-backed terrorists.

Macron calls for ceasefire, urges Turkey to stop flow of migrants

French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Russian and Turkish counterparts on Saturday to halt hostilities in Syria and agree to a lasting ceasefire, his office said.

Macron told the Russian and Turkish leaders in separate phone calls that he was “deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe” caused by the Syrian offensive in the province of Idlib.

“The President of the Republic stressed that an immediate cease to hostilities was needed and called on Russia and Turkey to establish a durable and verifiable ceasefire as they committed to France and Germany at the four-way summit in Istanbul in the autumn 2018,” his office said in a statement.

Macron also expressed solidarity with Turkey over the recent deaths of its soldiers in Syria, and urged Turkey to cooperate with the European Union on migrant flows.

The remarks came after Erdogan threatened to let thousands of refugees cross into Europe.

Around 13,000 migrants have gathered along the Turkish-Greek border, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said as several thousand migrants were in skirmishes with Greek police firing tear gas across the frontier.

“What did we do yesterday? We opened the doors,” Erdogan said in Istanbul.

“We will not close those doors…. Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises.”

He was referring to a 2016 deal with the European Union to stop refugee flows in exchange for billions of euros in aid. Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Erdogan Says Asked Putin to ‘Step Aside’ to Allow Turkey to Deal With Syria ‘One on One’ – Reports



The Russian and Turkish presidents spoke by telephone on Friday amid the escalating tensions in Idlib, where the Syrian Army has been entangled in a shooting war with Turkish troops and Ankara-backed militants in recent weeks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to leave Ankara “face to face” with Syrian authorities in the conflict over Idlib during Friday’s talks.

“I asked Mr. Putin: ‘What’s your business there? If you establish a base, do so but get out of our way and leave us face to face with the regime,” Erdogan said, speaking to reporters in Istanbul, his comments cited by AFP.

Erdogan also warned that the “Syrian regime” would “pay the price” for the deaths of Turkish troops in Idlib, and said that if Russia left Damascus one-on-one with Turkey, “we will do what is necessary.”

Erdogan confirmed that Turkey had opened its borders with the European Union for Syrian refugees, and that some 18,000 migrants had already crossed the border into the EU. According to the Turkish president, Ankara could not “handle a new refugee wave” from Syria. Earlier, Turkish officials told media that Ankara had opened its borders with the European bloc amid the escalating conflict in Idlib.

“We have been saying for a long time that we are not obligated to accept such a number of refugees. You promised us assistance, but are doing nothing, so we opened our borders yesterday. 18,000 refugees have already passed through, and today this number will be 25,000-30,000, and we will not close our doors because the EU must keep its word,” Erdogan said, presumably referring to the March 2016 Turkey-EU migrant deal.

Putin and Erdogan spoke by telephone amid tensions in Idlib, the restive Syrian province where tens of thousands of militants remain concentrated, and where dozens of Syrian and Turkish troops have now been killed amid weeks of clashes.

Also on Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that the recent talks with Turkey had led to the consideration of “concrete steps” aimed at achieving “lasting stability in the Idlib de-escalation zone.”

“Both sides confirmed their goal to reduce tensions on the ground while continuing the fight against terrorists,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, in an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Idlib on Friday, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya emphasized that the Syrian Army had every right to eliminate terrorists in Idlib and anywhere else on its sovereign territory.

“In recent months,  the terrorists who captured Idlib, mainly from [al-Nusra*] had dramatically increased attacks against civilians in neighbouring settlements and the Syrian military. In response to the constant violations of the ceasefire inside the Idlib de-escalation zone, the Syrian Army of course has every right to respond and to squash the terrorists,” Nebenzya said.

The Russian diplomat stressed that Russia could not restrict Syria from fulfilling the requirements on fighting terrorism set out in the Security Council’s own resolutions, especially since Damascus was doing so on its own territory. He added that he hoped that a return to the Astana agreements could help prevent a repetition of the series of events which led to the deaths of Turkish and Syrian troops.

For his part, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari accused Turkey of aggression in Syria, and alleged that Ankara was using its Idlib observation posts to provide support for terrorists. The diplomat stressed that Syria would do everything necessary to protect its citizens and defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Idlib Crisis Deepens

Simmering tensions in the Idlib de-escalation zone were ramped up again on Thursday, when Nusra terrorists initiated a large-scale attack on Syrian Army positions. Syrian troops returned fire, with at least 33 Turkish troops killed in response. On Friday, the Russian millitary said the Turkish forces caught in the crossfire should not have been there in the first place. Turkish media later reported that the Turkish army had destroyed some 130 pieces of Syrian military hardware in recent weeks.

On Friday, Greek media reported that Athens had vetoed a planned NATO statement expressing solidarity with Ankara over the deaths of the Turkish troops. Greece reportedly made the decision despite opposition from the US, the UK, France and Germany.

Russia has repeatedly accused Turkey of proving unable to fulfill several key obligations related to the Idlib de-escalation zone, including the requirement to separate armed militants ready for peace talks with Damascus from jihadists.

The Syrian Army began an offensive in the Idlib de-escalation zone in late 2019 following repeated terrorist attacks on Syrian forces, which claimed the lives of dozens of Syrian troops. Tensions in Idlib escalated dramatically earlier this month after a Syrian artillery strike killed over half-a-dozen Turkish troops at one of the twelve observation posts Turkey has dotting the Syrian province. The attack prompted an escalatory response by Ankara, and threats of a full-blown military campaign.

Along with the tens of thousands of armed rebels and jihadists, Idlib is home to as many as three million civillians, and is the most populous Syrian territory outside Damascus’s control.

* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

Russian analysts: Erdogan’s arrogance could lead to large-scale war that would harm Turkey’s interests


 Saturday, 29 February 2020 20:46 

Moscow,(ST)- Boris Dolgov, senior researcher at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences has stressed the need to put an end to the crimes and arrogance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Syria’s north.

He stressed in an interview with a SANA correspondent in Moscow today that the Turkish regime’s actions in Idlib are unprecedented and they violate all international agreements concluded previously between Russia and Turkey as well as all international conventions. He stressed that escalation in that region threatens of the outbreak of a large-scale war that harms the interests of Turkey and the Turkish people in the first place.

In turn, member  of the Russian Writers Union, Khaled Elias pointed out in a similar interview that Erdogan and his supporters are the ones who embraced and sponsored terrorists from all over the world and who stood behind this brutal attack on Syria.

 He added that Turkish regime’s mercenaries in Aleppo behave as thieves because they have dismantled and stole Aleppo’s factories and industrial workshops and smuggled them to Turkey with the knowledge of Erdogan himself.

Elias indicated that the terrorists and their Turkish sponsors are currently using shoulder-fired US anti-aircraft missiles systems in Syria, stressing that the Syrian Arab army’s response to the Turkish attacks is a fair response, because it was the Turks who crossed the border, entered Syrian territory and supported the terrorists there.

For his part, Alexander Kuznetsov, Deputy Director of the Russian Institute for Political and Military Analysis, stressed that the Turkish actions are rejected from the viewpoint of international law because Turkey launches hostile actions against a neighboring country and interferes in its affairs.

 The Russian expert called for obligating Turkey to implement what was agreed upon with Russia, pointing out that the Turkish soldiers who were killed in Idlib were participating in the terrorists’ combat operations on the Syrian lands, and this behavior violates Syria’s  sovereignty.

Amal Farhat

It’s time for Ankara to accept the realities of the Syrian war before it’s too late (UPDATED!)

February 28, 2020

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

The two months long Syrian Army offensive in the Idlib and Aleppo provinces culminated in Aleppo’s complete liberation from the jihadist terrorists of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and their friends. In a matter of weeks, the Syrian Army, backed by the Russian Air Force managed to liberate hundreds of towns and cities across the two provinces, including the important cities or Saraqib and Maarat Al-Numan, while also fully securing the imperative M5 highway stretching from Damascus to Aleppo. These are areas that were considered untouchable only a year ago, but now they have all fallen like bricks, proving that the jihadist resolve is dwindling.

Naturally, tensions with Ankara, a key backer of the jihadist forces, have risen. The Russian-Turkish understanding has deteriorated over the past weeks as both sides accuse eachother of breaking their agreement. The Sochi agreement of 2018 stipulated that a demilitarized zone was to be created in Idlib and Ankara was tasked with separating the “moderate” rebels from HTS militants. After almost 18 months of stalling by the Turkish side and repeated attacks and violations of the agreement by the Jihadist forces, Moscow’s and Damascus’ patience finally ran out.

I have for long been a critic of these ceasefire deals in Idlib as I consider it a waste of time to negotiate with Jihadists since these are people that consider peace with the kuffars (Russians) and murtadeens (Shias, Alawites) to be a sin. Besides, what would be the purpose of a long term ceasefire with them? The Syrian jihadists will never participate in a political settlement, while the foreign jihadists have no right to be in Syria in the first place.

The jihadists have for long declared that they will not rest until the Syrian government is overthrown anyways. When two sides have such fundamental differences that can never be reconciled, there is no point in even trying. The reality is that the Syrian Army and the jihadists are locked in a battle of annihilation, no side can live comfortably as long as the other side still exists. Yes, the ceasefire deals were beneficial for a while in 2017 when the Syrian Army had the opportunity to shift focus from Idlib to central and eastern Syria in their campaign against the so called “Islamic State”. With Daesh defeated, the jihadists in Idlib were not just weakened but also isolated since the Syrian Army no longer had to fight on two fronts in the Aleppo and Hama provinces. While the Russian entry into the war in 2015, spelled disaster for the jihadists, the fall of Daesh as a territorial entity made it even more clear that the jihadist defeat was inevitable.

Still Ankara has thrown all its weight behind the jihadists, even going as far as threatening to launch an offensive to push back the Syrian Army gains. So far, Ankara has sent massive convoys to Idlib and set up new “observation posts” across the region and helped the jihadists to launch counter offensives on Saraqib- there are pictures and videos showing HTS militants using Turkish military vehicles, while Moscow also caught Turkish forces providing artillery cover to the jihadists. Moscow has responded by reassuring their commitment to stand by the Syrian Army and joined the Syrian Air Force in bombing the jihadists, striking Turkish forces embedded with them as well. Tensions rose to alarming levels when several Turkish soldiers were killed in Moscow’s bombings, naturally Ankara blamed Damascus rather than admitting that Moscow punished Ankara for crossing the line. Yet Erdogan continues to threaten Syria by demanding the Syrian Army withdraws from all liberated areas by the end of February.

It remains to be seen whether Ankara will make good on its promise of launching an offensive on Idlib, but history teaches us that making strategic moves out of desperation is never a good idea. Ankara is desperate to have the jihadists remaining in Idlib, because Erdogan knows what the other option means – 30 000 terrorists with nowhere else to go, flocking into Turkey and wreaking havoc inside the country. It’s a dangerous game that Ankara is playing here. Fighting the Kurdish led militias who have no airpower and capabilities to bring down Turkish warplanes is one thing, but fighting a Syrian Arab Army, with 9 years of battle experience, and two major players such as Iran and Russia backing them militarily and logistically, is a whole other thing.

One would think that it would be in Turkey’s best interest to see these terrorists eliminated. Logically, nobody would want terrorists as their neighbours, which makes me question whether or not Ankara is actually calling the shots here. There is another player in this war that has a history of using terrorism to achieve their goals – enter Washington. My gut feeling tells me that Washington is behind these tensions as it is Washington that benefits from a collapse in Russian-Turkish collaboration. I believe that Washington is fuming over the rapid advance of the Syrian Army, and seeing how Washington has lost influence over an ever more rebellious Ankara over the past few years, Washington sees a great opportunity to get Ankara back into the fold.

It is no coincidence that Secretary Pompeo immediately after the announcement of two slain Turkish soldiers took to Twitter express “solidarity with the killed Turkish soldiers” and declare Washington’s commitment to “stand by our NATO ally Turkey”. A few days ago, reports alleged that Turkey had asked Washington for support through the deployment of Patriot missile systems to counter Russian warplanes – this was supposedly in response to Moscow’s decision to impose a no-fly zone in north-western Syria. As mentioned, Washington is the player that benefits the most from a Turkish-Russian deterioration of relations, as Washington thrives in the chaos that would follow if Moscow and Ankara cannot find a solution and are forced to confront one another.

Erdogan is recognized as a mentally unstable player by many observers while others consider him a mastermind who has been playing both sides in this war and who is now trying to bluff his way into stopping the Syrian Army advance. Whether he is crazy or just bluffing I’ll leave for every person to decide for himself, but if he is crazy and wants to confront Damascus and Moscow on this matter, then we are about to enter yet another bloody chapter of this almost 9 years long great tragedy. By the end of this month, we will know if Erdogan is bluffing for not.

Update: Since writing this article, the situation has further escalated as last night at least 33 Turkish troops were killed by Syrian Army shelling. The Turkish military responded by reportedly striking Syrian Army positions all over the Idlib countryside, causing catastrophic damage to the Syrian military’s capabilities in northwestern Syria.

Greece vetoes NATO statement supporting Turkey in Syria

By News Desk -2020-02-29

The Permanent Mission of Greece to NATO on Friday evening vetoed a statement that the alliance was preparing to make in support of Ankara, following the recent killing of 33 Turkish troops, Greek newspaper Vima reported, citing information from Greek sources.

According to the newspaper, the foreign minister of Greece, Nikos Dendias, issued direct instructions to representatives to use a veto if the text of the joint statement does not include a Greek proposal to refer to compliance with the March 2016 EU-Turkey declaration on refugees and migrants.Men, You Don’t Need the Blue Pill if You Do This Before BedShockingnewstodayAds by Revcontent

The Greek demand was reportedly met with resistance by a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States and France.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu demanded to begin political consultations provided for in Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, which allows a member country to ask for the organization’s assistance if it considers that its security, territorial integrity or political independence are threatened.

Ankara also requested that its allies assist on air defense and intelligence in connection with the situation in Idlib, but no agreements have been reached on the issue, according to the publication.

The report comes as 33 Turkish troops were killed by a Syrian airstrike in the Idlib Governorate on Thursday. The Russian military later explained that the Syrian army targeted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists operating in the province, adding that Syrian government forces were not informed about the Turkish presence in the area.

The latest spike in fatal skirmishes follows several weeks of tensions triggered by attacks from Turkish-backed militants against the Syrian army.

ALSO READ  Turkey vows to respond with force after Syrian Army captures Saraqib

لماذا يحارب الروس الأتراك في إدلب؟

د.وفيق إبراهيم

يشتدّ القتال الروسيّ – التركيّ في منطقة إدلب السورية، فتدعم روسيا بالإسناد الجوي والتدخل البري، الجيش العربي السوري. فيما تنخرط قوات الاحتلال التركيّ إلى جانب تنظيمات إرهابية محلية عالمية بالمباشر.

كان الرئيس التركي أردوغان يعتقد أن تحسّن علاقات بلاده مع روسيا، اقتصادياً يسمح له ببناء دور كبير في سورية انطلاقاً من احتلاله أراضٍِي سورية واسعة، وارتباط مجموعات ارهابية بقوات بلاده. هذا بالاضافة الى علاقاته بالاميركيين وحلف الناتو وحاجة الاوروبيين الى دوره المعادي للدولة السورية.

مع دعم غير مباشر من «اسرائيل» التي تعتقد ان الدور التركي في سورية كفيل بتفتيتها.

لذلك تسانده بشنّ غارات على الجيش السوري وحلفائه لدعم الجيش التركي في وضعه المتراجع، كما أن بلدان الخليج المتناقضة معه لا تقبل بهزيمة في ادلب، وتفضل وضعية «ستاتيكو» كأمر واقع يبقي القتال مفتوحاً لاستنزاف سورية وتركيا في آن معاً.

أردوغان اذاً في وضع مزرٍ، فقواته التركية المنغمسة في القتال الى جانب الإرهابيين يسقط أفرادها قتلى بمعدلات غير مسبوقة منذ احتلالها أراضي سورية بدءاً من 2016، ويجد نفسه سياسياً من دون دعم غربي ملموس عسكرياً.

هذه الوضعية المتراجعة لأردوغان تشجع الروس على الاستفادة منها ومحاولة خنق الدور التركي في سورية الى معدل يسبق الموت مباشرة.

هناك أسباب مباشرة وأخرى كامنة تتحكم بهذا الإصرار الروسي على حسم القسم الأساسي من ادلب، واولها ان صعود الدور الروسي في سورية لا يكون إلا بقدرته على تدجين طموحات اردوغان السورية، وذلك للوصول إلى مجابهة الدور الأميركي النفطي والجيوسياسي في شرقي الفرات والتنف.

ويعتقد الكرملين الروسي أنه في سباق حاد مباشرة مع الأميركيين بتطبيق قانونهم المسمّى «قيصر» لخنق سورية بإلغاء كامل علاقاتها الاقتصادية في الداخل مع الخارج.

لذلك يعتبر الروس أن فتح طريقي أم 4 وأم 5 من حلب الى اللاذقية وحماة وحمص ودمشق، ضروري لمجابهة «قيصر» الترامبي، وذلك بفتح علاقات اقتصادية واجتماعية بين نحو عشرة ملايين سوري من الشمال في حلب حتى البحر المتوسط والحدود الأردنية والعراقية.

بالاضافة إلى أن هذا الإنجاز يعمق من الاستقرار السياسي للدولة السورية واضعاً كافة مدنها الأساسية في إطارسيادتها.

هناك جانب كامنٌ لا يتكلم به القيصر الروسي ويلاحظه الاميركيون عاملين على إجهاضه بكل قواهم، ويتعلق بالطموح الروسي الى العودة الى الإقليم. وهذا غير ممكن إلا بتحرير سورية من الأتراك والإرهاب، والدور الأميركي في سورية.

فعندما تتحرّر الحدود السورية الشمالية مع تركيا والشرقية والجنوبية مع الأميركيين يصبح بوسع الروس الانطلاق نحو العراق واليمن ولبنان ومصر والخليج، وامتداداتهم العربية والإسلامية، يبيعون سلاحهم يطوّرون اقتصادهم، يذهبون الى تركيب معادلة تشارك في حروب الاستحواذ على الغاز بما هو الطاقة الأساسية للعقود المقبلة وذلك انطلاقاً من كونها على رأس لائحة منتجي الغاز في العالم تليهم ايران وهي حليفة لهم. فيما تحتل قطر المرتبة الثالثة لكن الاكتشافات الجديدة قد تحدث تعديلات في هذه التراتبية، فهناك بلدان تأكد البحث العلمي وجود كميات هائلة من الغاز فيها، على رأسها سورية وليبيا والسعودية ومصر والجزائر واليمن ولبنان، وبلدان أخرى في أميركا الجنوبية.

ولأن الروس يربطون بين الصعود السياسي ذي الطبيعة الجيوبوليتيكية وبين الازدهار الاقتصادي فسارعوا الى عقد اتفاقات لتزويد الغاز الروسي لآجال طويلة مع الصين والمانيا واوكرانيا وتركيا.

لجهة أوكرانيا فلديها خطان، واحد لاستهلاكها الداخلي والثاني لأوروبا، وكذلك حال تركيا ويبدو أن الروس تحسّبوا لضغط تركيا عليهم في موضوع سورية باستخدام خطوط الغاز الروسيّة العابرة أراضيهم، فاستداروا نحو أوكرانيا لبناء خطوط غاز روسية إليها. فتشكل بديلاً لأي استثمار سياسي تركي في هذا الصدد.

لذلك تدخل روسيا حرب إدلب بوضوح لا يحتمل المراوغة التركية متأكداً من محدودية الدعم الأميركي – الأوروبي الخليجي الإسرائيلي لاردوغان، كما انها لم تعد تقبل بتهديدات تركيا بإلغاء اتفاقات سوتشي وآستانا. فالشرعيّة الوحيدة في سورية هي لدولتها فقط، اما الاتفاقات والمؤتمرات فتبقى ناقصة الى ان تعترف بها الدولة صاحبة السيادة.

وهذا ما بدأ يظهر بشكل علني عبر الخطاب الرسميّ السوري الذي يصف تركيا في سورية بالاستعمار.

بالمقابل يواصل اردوغان الضغط على الحلف الغربي لدعمه، ملاحظاً سقوط خطابه المذهبي في سورية. فعاد الى تأجيج اعلامي لا يردد الا أن تركيا تجابه سياسات التغيير الديموغرافي وميليشيات مذهبية مدعومة من محاور طائفية إقليمية (ايران).

وهذه من الوسائل التركية التقليدية لإثارة الفتن الطائفية في سورية لاستثمار مناطقها وتجزئتها.

يتبين بالاستنتاج ان لروسيا مصلحة فورية في تقليص الدور التركي لتقوية حليفتها الدولة السورية من ناحية وللعودة الى الإقليم من ناحية ثانية.

فهل يتجرأ الاتراك على الذهاب بعيداً في لعبة الحرب في إدلب؟

اذا استمر الدعم الاميركي محدوداً فلن يعدم أردوغان وسيلة لتفعيل الحوار مع موسكو على قاعدة تطبيق اتفاقيات سوتشي، وبقي أن تقتنع الدولة السورية بذلك.

لذلك فإن أردوغان البراجماتي يمتلك وسيلتين لحفظ ماء وجهه: الاستمرار بمناوشات مع الجيش السوري والحوار العميق مع روسيا للمحافظة على ما تبقى له من دور. وهنا يشمل بكل تأكيد محاولة نيل موافقة روسية على دور له في ليبيا الى جانب حليفه السراج. وهذا يشمل حسب الاعتقاد التركي حصة في الغاز في البحر الأبيض المتوسط.

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Even Trump is Smarter than Erdogan: 37 More Turkish Soldiers Killed in Idlib

February 28, 2020 Arabi Souri

Turkish Army Column heading to aid al-Qaeda in Idlib hit by the SAA - dozens of Turkish soldiers killed
Turkish Army Column heading to aid al-Qaeda in Idlib hit by the SAA – dozens of Turkish soldiers killed
Turkish Army Column heading to aid al-Qaeda in Idlib hit by the SAA – dozens of Turkish soldiers killed Turkish Army Column heading to aid al-Qaeda in Idlib hit by the SAA – dozens of Turkish soldiers killed Conflicting reports coming from northwest Syria, in Idlib in particular, the conflicts in reports are mainly about the total number of Turkish soldiers killed late yesterday local time, the number is ranging between 22 as per the Erdogan’s propaganda outlets and 37 as per Turkey’s own British allies. Erdogan’s regime’s propaganda media Anadol Agency stated that 22 Turkish soldiers killed, reference the Turkish governor of occupied Syrian Iskandaron (Hatay). Erdogan’s war ministry increased the number to 29 Turkish soldiers killed. The British intelligence media outlet known as SOHR increased the number to 37. Britain maintains the largest listening (spy) post in the world in Cyprus, across the Syrian coast, they listen (spy) to all communications including of Turkey, USA, and Israel, they might have listened to cries by the Turkish soldiers calling for rescue. Instead of learning from his boss in the ‘White’ House and saying that the Syrians are ‘standing down’ and ‘all is well’ and ‘nobody is harmed’ and silently starts withdrawing his troops from Syria while his war ministry starts talking about ‘brain injured’ soldiers, Erdogan increased the tensions by ordering artillery and missiles attacks against Syrian Arab Army posts in Latakia countryside, the same posts that were targeted by al-Qaeda throughout the Syrian crisis. What is known so far is the Syrian Arab Army bombed a Turkish military column of armored vehicles that were moving to aid al-Qaeda in Saraqib after the terrorists were defeated. The military column is ‘deleted’. Russian official sources confirmed today the reports that Turkish soldiers were firing at Russian jets which were in pursuit of Nusra Front (HTS aka al-Qaeda Levant) in Idlib. Erdogan’s propagandists are talking about thousands of Syrian soldiers killed in the retaliation attacks against the posts in Latakia countryside. Erdogan’s war ministry claimed there are dozens of SAA soldiers killed. Sources on the ground and Russian sources stated that there are 4 Syrian Arab Army soldiers injured. It’s up to the readers to take any of the accounts, nobody will ever know, at least while the clashes are still ongoing. Meanwhile, members of Erdogan’s anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood AK Party are gathering near the hospitals where the Turkish Army soldiers were taken, chanting al-Qaeda slogans to take revenge from the Syrians for killing Turkish soldiers inside Syria. Syrian Arab Army Besieges Turkish Army’s 10th Military Post in Idlib February 27, 2020 Erdogan Killed 2 More Turkish Army Soldiers to Defend al-Qaeda in Idlib February 20, 2020 The SAA Killed 5 More Turkish Soldiers in Taftanaz East of Idlib February 10, 2020 The Muslim Brotherhood organization was established over a century ago to control the Islamic world using fanatic puppets, similarly, the British oversaw the creation of the Wahhabi religion, the religion of the people of Najd (Riyadh) in Saudi Arabia and the rulers of Qatar who keep confusing they’re Muslim Brotherhood or Wahhabis, Britain is not helping them find out. Zionism is also another tool nourished by Britain at the same time, also to control the Jews from within using fanatic puppets. The Turkish madman can solve this entire quagmire very simply by calling Mr. Putin and apologizing for all the backstabbing, he can give his forces (al-Qaeda) orders to withdraw to designated camps inside Turkey and call on the Turkish Army to withdraw to their country and continue their lives with their families, that will also be in accordance with international law and the Adana Accord he kept breaching and violating since 2011. He can ask Mr. Putin to convey his apologies to Dr. Bashar Al-Assad and offer to rebuild Syria on Turkey’s account and to compensate the owners of factories in Aleppo for stealing their factories, the farmers in northeast Syria for stealing their wheat and destroying their silos, and to allocate a few billion dollars to compensate the families of the Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Hezb Allah soldiers killed fighting al-Qaeda he sponsored. Earlier this week Russia offered Erdogan a very large banana in Idlib, instead of accepting it he increased the level of threats and attacks in Idlib, Aleppo, Northeastern Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, and included verbal assaults on Russia. Russia Offers Erdogan a Large Banana, Might be the Last One in Idlib Syria News sources from within Turkey confirm that the top brass of the Turkish Army are already boiling and the long-awaited military coup to re-instate democracy and secularism in Turkey is imminent, the only thing delaying them is the uncertainty whether Mr. Putin will help Erdogan again against them, or will it be Israel, so they can take their precautions.

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