Syrian, Russian aircraft intensify missions over Idlib as SAA awaits green light for offensive

By News Desk -2020-09-02

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – For the last 48 hours, the Syrian and Russian air forces have been conducting reconnaissance missions over the Idlib Governorate, as their aircraft capture important images of the enemy whereabouts and defensive positions.

According to a source in the Hama Governorate, the Syrian Arab Army and their Russian partners have intensified their reconnaissance missions for the purpose of intelligence gathering, amid reports of a new offensive inside Idlib.

In July, the Syrian Arab Army sent a large number of reinforcements to the Idlib Governorate, which prompted the Turkish military and their allied militants to rush troops to these front-lines in the Jabal Al-Zawiya region.

However, the offensive was put on hold, along with future operations inside the Jabal Al-Akrad region of the Latakia Governorate.

It now appears that the Syrian Army is once again moving forces back to the southern countryside of the Idlib Governorate, as the SAA awaits the green light to launch a new operation along the southern and eastern fronts of Idlib.

Should a new offensive commence, the Syrian Army will likely concentrate on the areas along the M-4 Highway (Aleppo-Latakia), specifically, the key town of Ariha and the Jabal Al-Zawiya region.

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Russian, Syrian Forces Eliminated Over 300 ISIS Militants In Desert

August 26, 2020

Video Here

South Front

Russian and Syrian forces eliminated 327 ISIS militants during a joint security operation that took place in the desert areas of Homs and Deir Ezzor from August 18 to August 24.

According to the Russian side, strikes of the Syrian Air Force, the Russian Aerospace Forces, field artillery and actions of special forces units in the desert also allowed to eliminate 134 shelters, 17 observation posts, 7 warehouses and 5 underground storage areas belonging to ISIS terrorists.

The operation came in response to a series of successful ISIS attacks on pro-government forces in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert. One of these attacks, near Deir Ezzor city on August 18, led to the killing of Russian Major-General Vyacheslav Gladkih. Taking into account the numbers provided by the Russian side, the August 18-24 operation likely delivered a powerful blow to ISIS cells hiding in the desert. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that the ISIS threat was fully removed.

As long as areas not controlled by Damascus remain, ISIS will always have a place to hide and restore its forces.

On August 25, a Russian military vehicle was targeted with an RPG along the M4 Highway, during the 25th Turkish-Russian Joint Patrol. No Russian personnel received serious injures. According to photos from the site, a BTR-80’s wheel was damaged during the attack. This became the second attack on a joint Turkish-Russian patrol in southern Idlib in a week. The previous one targeting a Turkish military vehicle took place on August 17.

The regular attacks on Russian-Turkish patrols in southern Idlib reveal that the de-escalation process is not going very well. In fact, al-Qaeda-linked groups still keep a dominant position in the ‘opposition-controlled’ Idlib and have not been separated from their ‘moderate’ allies.

On August 14, Russia even temporarily suspended joint patrols with Turkey in the area due to Ankara’s inability to guarantee the security of patrols and fulfill its obligations under the de-escalation deal. It appeared that the decision had been reversed, as they began again on August 17, however the attacks resumed shortly thereafter.

In these conditions, the continuation of joint patrols by Turkey and Russia apparently puts its forces involved in such actions in danger. If the threat of al-Qaeda-linked radicals is not addressed, militants bolstered by the previous successes will likely increase their attacks on these patrols even further.

FIRST EVER FULL TURKISH-RUSSIAN PATROL ON M4 HIGHWAY IN SYRIA’S GREATER IDLIB COMPLETED (VIDEO)

South Front

On July 22, the Russian Military Police and the Turkish military completed their first ever full joint patrol on the M4 highway in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.

The joint patrol set off from the government-held town of Tronba in southern Idlib. The patrol passed through the entire opposition-held section of the M4. In the end, Russian forces reached the government-held town of Ain Hawr in northern Lattakia, while Turkish forces headed back to Greater Idlib.

Video

This was the 22nd joint Russian-Turkish patrol on the M4 and the first to pass through the entire opposition-held section of the M4 highway. The patrol didn’t encounter any problem.

Turkey committed to secure the M4 under the agreement with Russia signed on March 5. The highway links the port city of Lattakia with Aleppo city, Syria’s industrial hub.

suicide bombing targeted the 21th patrol more than a week ago. Three Russian service members were injured in the attack. Russian and Syrian forces responded with a series of airstrikes and intense shelling.

By securing the M4 highway, Turkey has fulfilled a part of its commitments. Under the agreement with Russia, Ankara is also obliged to neutralize the remaining terrorist groups in Greater Idlib, including Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. Turkish forces are yet to take any action to achieve this goal.

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Al-Qaeda Factions Create New Coalition In Idlib

South Front

 15.06.2020 

Early on June 14, the Russian Aerospace Forces reportedly carried out airstrikes on positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham near the villages of al-Bara and Deir Sunbul in southern Idlib. Since the signing of the new de-escalation agreement with Turkey on March 5, the Russian military has halted active operations in Greater Idlib. Nonetheless, it continued isolated precise strikes on high value terrorist targets.

The June 14 airstrikes followed the creation of a new coalition by several al-Qaeda-linked groups operating in the region: Horas al-Din, Ansar al-Din, Ansar al-Islam, Liwa al-Muqatlin al-Ansar and Tansiqiyat al-Jihad. The coalition, dubbed “Fa Ithbatu”, is in fact an expanded variant of another al-Qaeda-linked coalition, Ghurfat Eamaliat wa-Harid al-Mu’minin. This very faction recently conducted a large attack on Syrian Army positions near Tanjarah and Fattirah killing several soldiers and destroying at least one BMP infantry fighting vehicle.

Therefore, despite the claims of pro-militant propaganda that militant groups are uniting their forces in order to fight back the possible aggression of the ‘bloody Assad regime’, the creation of Fa Ithbatulikely reveals preparations for more aggressive actions against government forces.

The Turkish leadership, which is also committed to pushing propaganda about the ‘evil Assad regime’, clearly understands the real situation on the ground. So, it has continued expanding the network of observation posts along the M4 highway in southern Idlib in an attempt to keep the situation under control. The most recent Turkish observation posts were created near the villages of Farkia, Bsanqul, Kafer Shalaya, Urum al-Jawz and Mareian. Nonetheless, even these extensive efforts did not allow Turkish forces to at least create the image of order in the so-called opposition-held area.

On June 13, fighting erupted between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and a local armed group in the village of Salqin near the Turkish border. The conflict started after Hayat Tahrir al-Sham members assaulted a displaced civilian from Ma`arat al-Nu`man for setting a food stand near their shop. The fighting stopped only after Hayat Tahrir al-Sham deployed large reinforcements to the village. This was just the most recent incident in a long pattern of violence, which has been ongoing in the militant-held areas.

On June 14 and June 15, warplanes of the Syrian Air Force bombed ISIS hideouts near the town of Uqayribat in southeastern Hama. Last weekend, the Syrian Army, the National Defense Forces and Liwa al-Quds launched an anti-ISIS operation in the very same area. The operation came in response to ISIS attacks near the town on June 11 and June 12. However, it is unlikely that limited security operations in the desert area, which are being conducted by government forces, will fully remove the ISIS threat from the region.

Military Situation In Syria On June 15, 2020 (Map Update)

Military Situation In Syria On June 15, 2020 (Map Update)

A brief overview of the recent developments in Syria:

  • A suspected U.S. drone strike on Idlib’s city center killed two commanders of al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din;
  • The Turkish military claimed that it had eliminated 3 Kurdish rebels in northeastern Syria;
  • Russia is allegedly preparing to establish a military base near the ancient city of Palmyra;
  • Syrian warplanes conducted airstrikes on ISIS cells near Uqayribat;
  • Gunmen attacked Syrian government forces in Jasim.

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مخاض ربع الساعة الأخير… الشرق الأوسط إلى أين؟

د. ميادة ابراهيم رزوق

أثارت تصريحات الجنرال كينيث ماكينزي قائد القيادة الأميركية المركزية الوسطى تساؤلات كثيرة عن نعت منطقة غرب آسيا بالغرب المتوحش، والتحذير من تعاظم القوة الإيرانية، والصعود الصيني المقلق، والدور الروسي الانتهازي الذي أظهر براعة في سورية، وسوْق الملاحظات بضرورة إدارة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية لغرب آسيا المتوحش، وهي في طور التفاوض على طريقة الخروج من المنطقة، وهنا مكمن السؤال في ما قاله أمام التحديات التي تمرّ بها الولايات المتحدة الأميركية من ارتباك في إدارة الملفات الخارجية، والانقسام الداخلي بين إدارة ترامب والقيادة العسكرية، وخلافه مع بعض حكام الولايات، والتظاهرات والاحتجاجات ضدّ التمييز العنصري وعنصرية الشرطة، بدور ترامب الرئيسي في تسريع تظهيرها وتفاقمها، بكذبه وغطرسته وعنجهيته وعنصريته وسياساته الفاشلة الداخلية والاقتصادية وفي مواجهة جائحة كورونا، التي أدّت إلى زيادة العنف وتفاقم الاضطرابات وإفلاس وإغلاق آلاف الشركات، وازدياد نسبة الفقر والبطالة ليكون تعداد العاطلين عن العمل أكثر من 40 مليون مواطن أميركي، رغم استمرار العبث في منطقة الشرق الأوسط من خلال الإصرار على فرض الحصار والعقوبات الجائرة، وتردّي الأوضاع الاقتصادية، وتجويع الشعوب وإثارة الفوضى في غير مكان؛ كسباً للوقت واللعب على عامل الزمن، آملا بتحسين الظروف لتمرير جزءاً من صفقة القرن بضمّ الضفة الغربية، قبل الوصول للحظة انتخابات الرئاسة الأميركية.

تَعتبر أنظمة الدول الخليجية الرجعية وفي مقدّمتها السعودية والإمارات نفسها جزءاً من تلك الأجندة، علّها تحافظ على عروشها التي بدأت معالم انهيارها بالوضوح تحت وطأة الأزمة الاقتصادية والافلاس وانهيار أسعار النفط بالتشبيك مع جائحة كورونا ومشاكلها وانقساماتها الداخلية، وعدم إمكانية الخروج من حرب اليمن بماء الوجه.

ففي ظلّ أزماتها وخسارة مقومات أمنها القومي المالية والدينية فقدت الدعم والحماية الأميركية المباشرة، إلا من صفقات الأسلحة التي تفرغ ما تبقى في الخزائن والاحتياطات بمزاعم درء الخطر الإيراني، وأوراق الاعتماد الوحيدة لضمان الحفاظ على العروش في جعبة كيان العدو الصهيوني، باستمرار ركوب قطار التطبيع بكلّ صفاقة، وليس آخرها مقدار الذلّ في هبوط الطائرة الإماراتية الثانية في مطار بن غوريون بمزاعم تقديم المساعدات لقطاع غزة والضفة الغربية دون تنسيق مع الفلسطينيين الذين رفضوها جملة وتفصيلا بعزة واباء، لمشهد ذلّ آخر فيما فضحته مجلة «ناشيونال انترست» عن رغبة الأنظمة الخليجية بنسج علاقات اقتصادية واستراتيجية أكبر مع (إسرائيل) من وراء الكواليس، وليطلّ صباح يوم الجمعة الوزير الإماراتي يوسف العتيبة بمقالته الحصرية لصحيفة «بديعوت أحرنوت» لمغازلة الكيان الصهيوني بتفاصيل مبادرات بلاده بالانفتاح والعلاقات الاقتصادية والعمل المشترك والدعوة للمشاركة في معرض «الاكسبو» الدولي المخطط إقامته في دبي العام المقبل، وتكريس أسس التطبيع واعتبار (إسرائيل) فرصة وليست عدواً، لدمجها في المنطقة.

يتخلل هذا المشهد المأساوي تنامي الوعي العربي في رفض مشاريع الأجندة الصهيوأميركية، وخاصة في تونس والسودان نحو تغييرات قد يكون، وسيكون الانتصار السوري بالتحرير الكامل حجر الرحى لانتصار خيارات الشعوب العربية المقاومة، وبتبلور قيادات ثورية تقود نضالاتها.

في خضمّ هذه التفاصيل والانشغال الأميركي والأوروبي باضطراباته الداخلية، يتقن أردوغان سياسة اللعب على الحبال، واستثمار فائض القوة التي يشعر بها بعد تقدّم حليفته حكومة الوفاق الليبية بمواجهة الجنرال خليفة حفتر الذي تدعمه روسيا، لاستثمارها بسياسة ديكتاتورية قمعية في الداخل التركي، ومحاولة تكريس احتلال إدلب السورية اقتصادياً وعسكرياً أمراً واقعاً، بضخ كميات كبيرة من العملة التركية وفرض التعامل بها، وربطها بالتعاملات التجارية والرسوم الجمركية للبضائع العابرة من الحدود، وبمسار متصل في تعزيز بيئة حاضنة لوجودها بفرض منهاجها التعليمي المدرسي، وزيارة وزير الداخلية التركي سليمان صويلو في سابقة أولى لمخيمات النازحين في إدلب، بالتوازي مع استمرار التحشيد العسكري التركي بآلاف الجنود والآليات في مناطق التماس مع خطوط انتشار الجيش السوري، ونشر بطاريات دفاع جوي في مطار تفتناز، قد تكون لفرض منطقة حظر جوي في وجه الطائرات السورية والروسية، واستمرار دعم وجود مجاميع العصابات الإرهابية التكفيرية في مناطق قريبة من نقاط المراقبة التركية، وهجومها على مواقع الجيش السوري، ومنع فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية الدولي (M4)وتسيير الدوريات (الروسية – التركية) المشتركة عليه بحجج واهية بقطع المجموعات المتشدّدة للطريق وتخريب جزء منه، ضاربة بعرض الحائط تعهداتها لروسيا بالالتزام بتنفيذ آليات وبنود بروتكول موسكو واتفاق سوتشي، دون استبعاد الصدام العسكري مع القوات الروسية والجيش العربي السوري.

في كلّ هذا المشهد يحاول رجب طيب أردوغان وكعادته الكذب والمناورة لحجز مكان ودور قادم يوفر له أوراقاً ثمينة على طاولة التفاوض والتسويات، يقدمها كبطاقة اعتماد للداخل التركي وبما يدعي من أمن تركيا القومي.

باعتقادنا أجراس معركة إدلب الأخيرة تقرع لتنهي العربدة الأردوغانية، وتدق ناقوس إنهاء حياته السياسية، مع ما تمّ توقيعه خلال الأيام القليلة الماضية على اتفاق إيطالي – يوناني بشأن ترسيم الحدود البحرية لكبح الجماح التركي وتقويض فرصته بالقرصنة النفطية والغازية البحرية، لنطلّ في الختام وبتنامي وتعاظم قدرات وإمكانيات محور حلف المقاومة على مرحلة عنوانها الخروج الأميركي من غرب آسيا، وتكريس الانتصارات العسكرية والاقتصادية، وتغيير وجه المنطقة، والعين على فلسطين إلى مشهد حزم المستوطنين الصهاينة حقائبهم.

ISRAEL STRIKES SENSITIVE TARGETS IN SYRIA. IEDS EXPLODE NEAR TURKISH-RUSSIAN PATROL

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Early on June 5, the Israeli Air Force conducted strikes on a Syrian military facility near Masyaf. The strikes were conducted from Lebanese airspace. The Syrian Air Defense Forces intercepted several missiles, however the rest hit their targets. The bombed facility, which is run by the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, is reportedly involved in the development and manufacturing of missiles.

Two improvised explosive devices exploded near a joint Russian-Turkish patrol moving along the M4 highway in southern Idlib on June 4. The explosions happened when the patrol was passing the militant-held town of Arihah. However, they caused no damage to military vehicles or casualties among Turkish or Russian personnel. Despite the incident, the 15th joint patrol became even longer than all the previous ones. It started in the government-held town of Tronba bypassed Arihah and reached the village of Kafer Shalaya.

The slowly but steadily expanding length of Russian-Turkish patrols is a visual confirmation of the implementation of the de-escalation deal reached by Moscow and Ankara. At the same time, the full implementation of the deal still faces serious difficulties due to the presence of terrorist groups in the area. For example, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants are still in control of Arihah and recent developments show that they are not planning to sit there idly.

Ankara understands this and its forces continue expanding a network of observation posts along the M4 highway to secure the patrols. Recently, the Turkish Army set up positions near Bsanqul, Kafer Shalaya, Urum al-Jawz and Mareian. Nonetheless, without proactive measures to put an end to the terrorist threat, the situation cannot be changed strategically.

Just recently, a new wave of violence rolled across the militant-held part of Greater Idlib after Hayat Tahrir al-Sham detained a member of another radical militant group – Houras al-Din. The militant was detained when he was collecting taxes from locals for military purposes and kept in a Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-run prison in Jisr al-Shughur. Later, Houras al-Din fighters stormed the prison and freed their counterpart.

Earlier, Houras al-Din and the Turkistan Islamic Party criticized Hayat Tahrir al-Sham for having too soft a stance towards the Russian-Turkish de-escalation agreement in southern Idlib. Tensions, caused by the internal struggle for influence and resources, often grow among Idlib militant groups during the ceasefire phases of the conflict. Therefore, if some power wants to unite them and use them as at least a relatively homogenous force, a new escalation would be very useful.

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VIOLENCE AND CHAOS SPREAD IN TURKISH-OCCUPIED PART OF SYRIA

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Turkish-backed militant groups continue fighting each other in northern Syria.

On June 2, clashes broke out among members of the Sultan Murad Division, the al-Hamza Division and Ahrar al-Sharqiya in the villages of Bab al-Khair and Um Ushba in the province of al-Hasakah. According to local sources, the tensions erupted when militants failed to settle their differences over the looting of the fields of crops, which they had seized from the locals.

A separate incident happened in the town of al-Bab in the province of Aleppo early on June 3. The so-called Free Syrian Police (FSP) confronted their counterparts from other Turkish-backed groups after the FSP had detained a woman supposedly linked to ISIS. Last weekend, several civilians had already been injured in a firefight between the FSP and other armed groups.

Another problem is the regular occurrence of assassinations and bombing attacks happening in the Turkish-occupied area. On June 3, an explosion of a booby-trapped motorcycle in the village of al-Beshar injured one person and caused a fire in local wheat and barley fields. A day earlier, a civilian was killed and at least 3 others injured in a supposed IED explosion in the border town of Jarabulus. A car bomb also exploded in the village of Jenderes.

The total death toll from infighting among Turkish-backed militants and from various security incidents is over a dozen civilians in the past week alone.

At the same time, Syrian government forces have been putting extensive effort into securing the civilian areas that they have liberated from militants. Late on June 2, government troops announced that they had found and dismantled over 700 landmines and explosive devices in the area east of the town of Salamiya in Hama province.

Units of the Syrian Army also conducted a new anti-ISIS raid in the countryside of Palmyra. This time they were able to detect and destroy an ISIS position southeast of the ancient city. An active search operation is ongoing near the village of Maadan in Raqqa province after a supposed ISIS cell staged an IED attack there.

The contact line between the Syrian Army and militants in southern Idlib remains in a stable instable situation. Recently, clashes between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the army have been reported north of Hantutin and west of al-Jaradah.

Meanwhile, on June 2, the Turkish Army and the Russian Military Police held a 14th joint patrol along the M4 highway. The patrol started east of Saraqib and reached the western entrance to Ariha amid protests by supporters of Idlib radicals. Videos and photos from the Ariha entrance also showed lots of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham flags confirming that the town is currently in the hands of the terrorists. Further patrols to the area west of Ariha are not possible as long as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham maintains its positions there.

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RUSSIANS REOPEN CHUNK OF M4 HIGHWAY IN NORTHEASTERN SYRIA

South Front

 26.05.2020 

A part of the M4 highway between the towns of Ayn Issa and Tell Tamir in northeastern Syria has been reopened for civilian traffic. This chunk of the highway is located close to the contact line with the Turkish-occupied area. In previous months, the constant threat of attacks by Turkish-led forces disrupted the movement of civilian vehicles in the area. However, now, the highway is reopened under the supervision of the Russian Military Police. This step will contribute to the strengthening of commercial and social ties between the cities of Aleppo and Hasakah, and the stability in the region, in general.

The reopening of the M4 highway in northeastern Syria did not occur without incidents. Just a few days ago, on May 23, US forces briefly blocked a Russian Military Police convoy east of Tell Tamr. Pro-Damascus sources say that the US-led coalition may try to oppose the restoration of commercial and social links between the government-controlled part of Syria and the areas that remain in the hands of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

At the same time, the Syrian Army, the National Defense Forces and their allies continued operations against ISIS in southern Raqqah, western Deir Ezzor and southern Mayadin. The anti-ISIS efforts were coordinated with the combing operation led by Liwa al-Quds and the National Defense Forces in the countryside of Palmyra. Despite this, ISIS cells still remain active on the both banks of the Euphrates and in the desert area between Palmyra and al-Tanf.

The Turkish military reportedly deployed an MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air defense system in the vicinity of the town of Almastumah in southern Idlib. Earlier in 2020, Turkey sent several MIM-23 Hawk systems to Idlib to support its attack on the Syrian Army there. Now, Ankara is apparently working to strengthen the air defense and EW capabilities of its contingent deployed in the area. According to different sources, the number of Turkish troops in Greater idlib varies from 7,000 to 10,000.

Despite the large Turkish military presence, radical groups have a freedom of actions in their attempts to consolidate their efforts to oppose the implementation of the de-escalation agreement in southern Idlib. Houras al-Din and the Turkistan Islamic Party, both groups allied with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, united their propaganda efforts in the push against the implementation of the de-escalation deal and the expansion of the Russian-Turkish troops within the agreed to security zone on part of the M4 highway in southern Idlib. Right now, these groups are conducting no notable offensive operations or attack on the Syrian Army. Nonetheless, they are actively recruiting new members and training them in the camps created across the region. In these conditions, a new round of escalation is just a matter of time.

هل سقط وقف إطلاق النار في إدلب؟ وماذا بعد؟

العميد الركن د. أمين محمد حطيط

. لم نكن نتوقع أن تنفذ تركيا بروتوكول موسكو الإضافي الذي «منحها» هدية كبرى هي وقف إطلاق النار في ريف إدلب وتجميد العمليات القتالية على طرفي خطوط التماس التي رسمتها بنادق رجال الجيش العربي السوري وأقدامهم التي لو تابعت الحركة القتالية لكانت وصلت إلى الحدود مع تركيا وطوت صفحة الإرهاب في إدلب وريفها. فتركيا امتهنت منذ أن فتح لها باب استنة وأعطيت فرصة عضوية المثلث الراعي للمسألة السورية ميدانياً، ومن ثم سياسياً، سياسة النكول والابتزاز وتلمّس الطرق إلى حيث يؤكل الكتف بأقل جهد ممكن.

أما روسيا التي منحت تركيا هذه الهدية العظيمة بعد ان كانت وجهت عبر رئيسها بوتين لأردغان رسائل المهانة والإذلال في قصر الكرملين في موسكو، فقد ظنت ان الرسائل القاسية معطوفة على العطية التي حملها لها بروتوكول موسكو من شأنها أن تغيّر السلوك التركي في سورية وأن تتجه تركيا بشكل جدي هذه المرة ليس إلى تنفيذ بروتوكول موسكو فحسب، بل وكل الاتفاقات السابقة بدءاً من مخرجات استنة وصولاً لاتفاق سوتشي. وهذا يعني بالفهم الروسي توقف تركيا عن السير بمشروعها الخاص في سورية والذي يشمل اقتطاع أرض وتهجير سكان وتغيير ديمغرافي للمناطق الحدودية ووضع اليد على ثروات طبيعية وعرقلة الحركة الاقتصادية والصناعية في الشمال السوري. وكلها أمور تستحق بالفهم الروسي التضحية لضمان حل يحفظ الحقوق السورية دون ان يغضب تركيا او يستفزها.

بيد ان الميدان السوري شهد بعد بروتوكول موسكو مناورات تركية وتذاكياً من نوع جديد، حيث عملت تركيا هذه المرة باستراتيجية الباطن والظاهر المتناقضين او المتعاكسين، ففي خطابها مع الروسي كانت تؤكد المرة تلو المرة على التزامها ببروتوكول موسكو بما في ذلك طي صفحة المطالب بتراجع الجيش السوري بعيداً عن الخطوط التي وصل اليها إثر انتصاراته في عملياته العسكرية الأخيرة، كما وفتح الـ M4 الذي يربط حلب باللاذقية وضمان أمن الحركة عليه بتسيير الدوريات المشتركة الروسية التركية والسير قدماً بتفكيك الجماعات الإرهابية المسلحة المناهضة للحل السياسي، ومن جهة ثانية كانت توجّه جبهة النصرة وغيرها من الإرهابيين المتطرفين من تركمان وإيغور وسواهم لقطع طريق M4 ومنع تسيير الدوريات المشتركة عليها مع ضمان عدم استعمال القوة ضدهم. وفي النتيجة ربحت تركيا بـ»تذاكيها» وأبقت الطريق مقطوعة وجاءت الأيام بعد ذلك لتغيّبها عن جدول الأعمال المشترك لروسيا وتركيا.

لكن تركيا لم تكتف بما حصلت عليها، بل قادها غدرها إلى خرق وقف إطلاق النار ومهاجمة الجيش العربي السوري في سهل الغاب عبر تنظيمات إرهابية متطرفة جلها يعمل بأوامر المخابرات التركية ما يثبت أن تركيا مستمرة في مشروعها الخاص الذي لم تتراجع عنه، حيث لا يوجد أي دليل او أي قرينة تشير إلى هذا التراجع او توحي به، لا بالعكس فإن كل ما تقوم به تركيا ميدانياً يثبت استمرارها على السير قدماً فيه. وهي إذا توقفت فترة فإنما يكون توقفها لعائق ميداني لا علاقة له لا من قريب او بعيد بقرار تركي استراتيجي او مراجعة للسياسة التركية في سورية.

شنّ الهجوم الإرهابي في سهل الغاب شمالي غربي حماه، وإسقاط قرار وقف إطلاق النار عملياً وتمكّن المهاجمون من السيطرة على مساحة جنوبي خط التماس القائم (رغم أنها صغيرة ومحدودة) معطوفة على الإخفاق في فتح طريق الـ M4 مواكبة مع التصعيد التركي ضد الحكومة السورية، كلها وقائع وسلوكيات تدعو إلى وقف الرهان على سياسة تركية يمكن أن تكون صادقة ونظيفة ووفية لتعهداتها وتستحق أن يكون لها شرف الانضواء في منظومة إقليمية دولية لرعاية الحل في سورية.

وإذا كانت الحسابات الروسية تحول دون الانتقال في العلاقة مع تركيا من العمل المشترك إلى المواجهة والعداء الآن، وأن إيران تجد ان حسن التعامل مع تركيا يروّضها ويقلل الخسائر التي يفرضها الحل الذي لا تشارك فيه تركيا، فإن الحسابات السورية تبقى مقروءة من منظار أخر يوحي بأن سورية لا تستطيع أن تنتظر إلى ما شاء الله لإنجاز تحرير إدلب ووضع حد للإرهاب العالمي فيه، ولا تستطيع أن تعطي وقتاً إضافياً لتركيا لتعميق مشروعها الخاص في سورية بشكل يصعب معالجة آثاره ومفاعيله، ولذلك نرى أن الوقت الآن لا يلعب لصالح سورية التي تحتاج بإلحاح لطي صفحة إدلب والتفرغ لصفحة الشرقي الشمالي السوري حيث الاحتلال الأميركي وظاهرة الانفصال الكردي وتلاعب اليد التركية. وهي حالة مركبة فيها قدر من التعقيد تُفضل معالجتها بالتفرغ الميداني والسياسي حتى لا تتزاحم المؤثرات فتعرقل الحل.

لكل ذلك يبدو أن سورية ستجد نفسها وقريباً جداً مضطرة لاستئناف القتال والعمل باستراتيجيتها الناجعة القائمة على التحرير بالوثبات المتتالية، وهي الاستراتيجية التي مكّنتها من تحرير أكثر 5000 كلم 2 في ريفي حلب وحماه وأدت إلى السيطرة على طريق الـ M5 وأظهرت الوهن التركي في مواجهة الجيش العربي السوري وحلفائه وأجبرت أردوغان على أن يستغيث ببوتين استجداء لوقف إطلاق النار، أما روسيا فتجد نفسها مضطرة لأكثر من سبب لمواصلة دعم وإسناد الجيش العربي السوري في عملياته تلك، خاصة أنها فهمت مغزى الزيارة الإيرانية لدمشق مؤخراً.

فالسلوكيّات التركية في سورية باتت تبرّر العودة السورية لاستئناف التحرير بالقوة واجتثاث الإرهاب بكل مسمّياته وأشكاله من إدلب وتُضاف إليها الظروف الإقليمية والدولية هذه المرة التي تعزز هذا الاتجاه وتؤكد عليه إذ إنها اليوم في أفضل الأحوال التي تساعد على إطلاق هذه العمليات. فتركيا تحت وطأة ضغوط وبائية وسياسية واقتصادية داخلية فضلاً عن غرقها وانشغالها في ليبيا ما يمنعها من الدخول في مواجهة واسعة في سورية، وأميركا تنفذ في المنطقة إعادة انتشار عسكري، صحيح أنه لن يصل إلى الانسحاب منها، لكنه يشير إلى خفض في قواتها المنتشرة حالياً وأوروبا مشغولة عن العالم بوباء كورونا الذي لم تسيطر عليه حتى الآن. كل ذلك لا يطرح السؤال هل سيتخذ قرار تحرير إدلب بالقوة العسكرية، بل متى سيوضع هذا القرار موضع التنفيذ؟ الذي نتوقعه قريباً.

أستاذ جامعي – باحـث استراتيجي.

PROSPECTS OF TURKISH-RUSSIAN MILITARY CONFLICT IN SYRIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possible phases of escalation are the following:

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

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

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

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

Prospects Of Turkish-Russian Military Conflict In Syria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related

Prospects Of Turkish-Russian Military Conflict In Syria

South Front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possible phases of escalation are the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISRAELI MILITARY BUILDUP NEAR GOLAN HEIGHTS FOLLOWS STRIKES ON SYRIAN CAPITAL

Israel has deployed additional units of the Iron Dome and Patriot air defense systems near the borders of Lebanon and Syria. Pro-Israeli sources claim that the country’s military is preparing to repel possible retaliatory strikes from Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed forces following the recent airstrikes on alleged ‘Iranian targets’ near Damascus.

Over the past year, the Israeli Defense Forces have been steadily increasing their military presence in the area of the occupied Golan Heights under pretext of combating the so-called Iranian threat. Syrian sources describe these developments as a part of preparations for wider aggressive military actions against forces of the Damascus government and its allies in southern Syria.

Late on April 27, Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles dropped leaflets calling on Idlib residents to support actions of the Turkish Army in the area of the M4 highway. Such actions by the Turkish military likely demonstrate that the negotiations with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which were held after a military incident between the sides on April 26, likely ended with no real progress. If the Turkish Army continues its efforts to de-block the part of the M4 highway near Nayrab by force, it may find itself in the state of an open military confrontation with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

2 US soldiers were abducted after an attack on their vehicle near the Omar oil fields, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, Syrian state media said on April 27. Arab media regularly report about security incidents involving US-led coalition forces and their proxies in eastern Syria. Earlier in April, Syria’s SANA claimed that a US soldier and 2 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in an attack near the village of al-Wasia in Deir Ezzor province.

On top of this, ISIS via its news agency Amaq regularly reports successful attacks against personnel of the Syrian Democratic Forces and civilians in the US-controlled area. For example on April 21, Amaq announced that ISIS forces had killed a “sorcerer” in the town of al-Sabhah. The victim was identified as Hassan Ghanem al-Osman. He became the third “sorcerer” killed by ISIS in eastern Deir Ezzor during the last two months.

The US-led coalition prefers to remain silent regarding the ISIS terror campaign, which is ongoing under the nose of its forces. However, it found time to comment on the April 27 report about the supposed casualties among US personnel calling it fake.

The Russian Military Police established a new observation point near the town of Tell Tamir in northeastern Syria. Kurdish sources claim that Turkish-backed militants regularly shelled the town and the surrounding areas during the past few weeks. They expect that the deployment of the Russians there should help to put an end to these regular ceasefire violations.

Also read

Protesters pelt Turkish soldiers with rocks in Idlib as they clear M-4 Highway

By News Desk -2020-04-26

Turkish army soldiers stand guard as Kurdish people wait in a hope to enter Cizre, a town subject to a curfew as part of a controversial operation against Kurdish rebels, on March 22, 2016 in Mardin, for Newroz celebration. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for ‘New Year’, is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring, March 21, in Central Asian republics, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran. / AFP PHOTO / ILYAS AKENGIN

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 P.M.) – The Turkish Army dispersed a protest along the M-4 Highway (Aleppo-Latakia Highway) on Sunday after the participants refused to remove their barriers along the road.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the protest was held at the town of Al-Karamah, which is located in the eastern countryside of Idlib.

“Syrian Observatory activists have confirmed that widespread discontent is prevailing in the area where ‘Al-Karamah sit-in’ is held in the eastern countryside of Idlib on Aleppo-Latakia international highway (M4),” the SOHR report said.

The report continued that the Turkish Army removed soil barriers along the M-4 Highway near the town of Al-Nayrab, while also firing gas shells to disperse the protesters who were pelting them with rocks.

“Later, Turkish forces stepped up the use of violence and started live-fire shooting targeting the area where the sit-in was held, leaving two unidentified persons dead. It is not known yet if the victims are civilians or fighters, since there is a nearby military post,” they added.

Earlier this month, the Turkish Army broke up a similar protest in the town of Al-Nayrab; this came after some members of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) fired gunshots at the Turkish military’s soldiers.

MILITARY SITUATION IN SYRIA ON APRIL 26, 2020 (MAP UPDATE)

Military Situation In Syria On April 26, 2020 (Map Update)

A brief overview of the recent developments in Syria:

US-TRAINED MILITANTS SURRENDER TO SYRIAN ARMY. ISRAEL TRIES TO ASSASSINATE HEZBOLLAH COMMANDERS

South Front

On April 15th, 27 members of Maghawir al-Thawra, a militant group in the Al-Tanf zone, which is both funded and trained by the US-led coalition, surrendered to the Syrian Army with all of their weapons and equipment. These included 9 vehicles, 11 weapons including 4 heavy machine guns and 5 grenade launchers, as well as up to 7,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibers for small arms, more than 20 RPG rounds, and 6 high-tech communication devices.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, while the Maghawir al-Thawra members were moving to surrender, they were attacked by US-controlled forces and lost 3 vehicles.

Oleg Zhuravlev, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria said militants confessed that “they had been trained by US instructors to commit acts of sabotage at the oil-and-gas and transport infrastructure facilities, as well as to organize terror attacks on territories controlled by Syrian government forces.”

Later on the same day, Russian and Turkish forces conducted a 4th joint patrol along the M4 highway in southeastern Idlib. As on the previous occasions, the patrol took place along a short chunk of the highway west of Saraqib. The rest of the safe zone area agreed by Russian and Turkish leaders on March 5 in Moscow remains in the hands of radical militant groups.

In an official statement released on April 14, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham announced that it had formed 3 new units: the Talhah ibn Ubaydullah Brigade, led by Abu Hafs Binnish, the Ali ibn Abi Talib Brigade, led by Abu Baker Mheen and the Zubayr ibn al-Awam Brigade, led by Abu Mohamad Shura. The group provided no insight into the number of fighters in the new units or their tasks, but the estimated number of the new force is about 1,500.

Last month, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham launched a large recruitment campaign to revive its depleted special forces, the “Red Bands,” as well as its Inghimasi [suicide bombers] force.

Despite the fact that militants profit from the ceasefire regime with direct military protection from Turkey and are using the gained time to re-arm their units and train new fighters, they see any kind of Turkish cooperation with Russia as a direct threat to their interests. In some cases, this even leads to acts of aggression and threats against their sponsor’s forces.

For example, in a video which recently appeared online, members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham were threatening to behead Turkish soldiers moving along the M4 highway and pin their heads to the top of the nearby earth barrier. This is the real face of the so-called moderate opposition that Ankara supports in Greater Idlib.

On April 15, an airstrike targeted an SUV in the town of Jdaidit Yabws right on the border with Lebanon. The vehicle allegedly belonged to Hezbollah, which has become the target of Israeli missiles. The first one missed allowing the passengers to exit the vehicle a few moments before it was hit by the second missile.

The UAE-based Sky News Arabia and al-Arabiya claimed that high-ranking commanders of Hezbollah were the target of the Israeli strike.

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Syria & Iraq Launch Operations Against ISIS In Border Area

South Front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Turkish Forces Clash With Their Own Proxies On M4 Highway In Southern Idlib

South Front

On April 13, the Turkish Army and its proxies from the so-called Free Syrian Police clashed with supporters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other radical Idlib groups east of the town of Nayrab on the M4 highway.

According to sources loyal to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham a few hundred members of the Free Syrian Police and a few dozen Turkish troops were involved in the operation. After a series of clashes with radicals, they removed an improvised protest camp set up east of Nayrab. At some moment, Turkish forces even appeared to be engaged in a firefight with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants, but the situation quickly de-escalated and the protest camp blocking the highway re-appeared a few km to the west of its previous location.

Pro-Turkish media immediately branded the April 13 developments as a heroic attempt to de-block the M4 highway and finally launch joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the entire pre-agreed to M4 security zone. This explanation is far from reality. The de-escalation deal remains far from any kind of real implementation. The area of the supposed security zone is still in the hands of al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Ankara had no opportunity to ignore the radicals’ nest east of Nayrab because it could put an end to even the current ‘limited’ format of the joint Russian-Turkish patrols. All 3 previous joint patrols took place in the limited area between Saraqib and Nayrab because of security reasons. If the camp east of Nayrab was not removed, even such patrols would be no longer possible.

However, even this limited move caused a new wave of tensions between Turkish-controlled armed groups and their more independent allies. A firefight erupted between members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Turkish proxies from Faylaq Sham near the village of Msibin on the M4 highway.

Earlier, tensions between members of Turkey’s Syrian National Army and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-led forces were reported north of Daraat Izzah in western Aleppo.

Any Turkish attempts to de-block the M4 highway west of Nayrab will likely lead to a larger escalation in the area and may lead to more attacks on Turkish forces in Greater Idlib. The previous two IED attacks happened just after joint Turkish-Russian patrols west of Saraqib. The situation in Greater Idlib is in stalemate.

On the one hand, Ankara cannot continue ignoring attempts of groups that it funds to undermine its own attempts to implement the de-escalation deal with Russia at least formally. On the other hand, it does not want to use force to neutralize radicals in southern Idlib because the very same militants are the core of its influence in this part of Syria.

An explosion erupted on a natural gas pipeline in the area of al-Shadadi in the province of al-Hasakah. The incident happened just near the al-Jisba oil field controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led coalition. According to Kurdish sources, it remains unclear what group was behind the attack. Nonetheless, it is no secret that ISIS cells have recently increased their activities within the SDF-held area on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

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Turkish Madman Erdogan Reinforces TSK and Al-Qaeda in Idlib Despite Covid-19

April 8, 2020 Arabi Souri

Turkey reinforce military inside Idlib - Syria despite coronavirus - File photo
Turkish troops illegally in Idlib, Syria – Archive Photo

The Turkish madman and anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood Caliph wannabe Erdogan continues beefing up al-Qaeda terrorists and the Turkish troops in the province of Idlib, northwest of Syria, despite the outbreak of Covid-19, especially in his own country, Turkey.

When it comes to crimes, especially war crimes, and furthermore, the lowest levels of them we are un-blessed in our current times with the likes of Turkish Erdogan, US’s Trump, and Israeli Netanyahu, at least the latter two are commanders in pushing for the anti-Judaic, anti-Christian, and anti-Islamic coming of the Anti-Christ, while the first one is a small tool used by his Zionist masters.

Despite the outbreak of the Coronavirus aka Covid-19 in Turkey itself, hundreds of infected, dozens of Turkish cities are separated, the Turkish madman is taking advantage of everybody’s engagement in trying to stop the spread of this pandemic, to further his assigned agenda using his own styled pandemic of subhumans of al-Qaeda terrorists and its ilk. Beefing up the terrorists’ supplies and his own troops after the tremendous losses they suffered at the hands of God’s men on Earth the Syrian Arab Army and their allies, the Turkish madman Erdogan thinks destroying Syria and killing Syrians is more important than saving his own people.

Dima Nassif from the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel sheds more light in her following video report:

The video is also available on BitChute.

English translation of the report’s transcript:

Ankara is preventing movement between dozens of cities inside Turkey due to the Corona pandemic, but it does not prevent the flow of its army’s vehicles and reinforcements into Syria and without any preventive measures at the crossings.

Moscow’s preoccupation from following-up the implementation of securing the M4 highway is good news for Ankara and the terrorists of the factions in Idlib who have spread on both sides of the road and blew up bridges and destroyed large parts of it to prevent Russian patrols from passing through.

As for Ankara, it has intensified the numbers of its armed forces, equipped with all heavy weapons and air defense systems, and resupplied the armed groups with weapons and ammunition caches and new vehicles to compensate for their losses in the recent battles against the Syrian Arab Army.

But this is not all that is going on in Idlib during the ceasefire and the continuing Turkish-Russian dispute over the implementation of patrolling. There are press leaks that talked about a meeting of military officials from the Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda in the Levant) in which they discussed the preparation for an operation to end the Hurras Al Din faction (an offshoot of ISIS). Al-Jolani, who sent demonstrations against the Russian patrols, accused the Hurras Al Din for it, to use it as a pretext to liquidate the organization, to satisfy Ankara, and to relieve the Russian pressure demanding the eradication of terrorist groups.

Attempts to get rid of the organization (Hurras Al Din) were not born today, as tension began since the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the hands of US forces in a region under the control of Hurras Al Din, which was accused by the Al-Nusra Front (aka HTS) at the time of harboring and protecting al-Baghdadi, and the tensions increased at the end of last year due to mutual arrests, which reached arresting commanders of the Al-Nusra Front, which brought in military reinforcements, in preparation for ending the organization of Hurras Al Din.

Al-Jolani has not stopped liquidating scores of factions from his opponents since the beginning of the Astana Accord three years ago to present himself as a single party to negotiate with the Turks and the Russians about Idlib, and that he is able to own the factions’ lead, today, he completes this path and rearranges the situation in the north to his advantage before the Corona pandemic wave recedes. that distracted everyone away from him and from Idlib.

Dima Nassif – Damascus, Al-Mayadeen

End of the transcript.

Erdogan and Jolani
Turkish Erdogan and his loyal militiaman Jolani head of HTS (al-Qaeda Levant)

SYRIAN SOLDIERS KILLED IN TURKISH STRIKES IN IDLIB. KURDISH REBELS ATTACK TURKISH PROXIES IN AFRIN

South Front

The Afrin Liberation Forces carried out a series of attacks on Turkish-backed militants in northern Aleppo. According to the group, its fighters stormed positions of Turkish proxies near Omra killing three of them on March 26. On April 1, the group’s members blew up a vehicle of a field commander, Abu Khalid. The commander and his three bodyguards were killed, while the fourth one was injured. On the same day, Kurdish rebels detonated an IED at a headquarters of Turkish-backed forces in the al-Mahmudiyah neighborhood of Afrin city. The attack resulted in material losses only.

The Afrin Liberation Forces is a brand used by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to distance themselves from regular attacks on the Turkish Army and Turkish-backed groups in northern Syria. They launch their attacks from the YPG-controlled area near the city of Aleppo and have a network of cells within the Turkish-occupied region of Afrin.

Turkish convoys with building blocks and engineering equipment were entering Syria through the Kafr Lusin border crossing on April 1 and April 2. Later, the equipment and building blocks then were delivered to the militant-held part of the M4 highway in southern Idlib. The Turkish military is reportedly planning to use them to set up a group of fortified checkpoints along the highway in order to solidify its presence there. In March, Turkish forces in the area became a target of two IED attacks by radical militants, and Ankara reasonably expects that such attacks could continue in April.

On April 2, two Syrian soldiers were killed and five others were injured in a Turkish artillery strike on a Syrian Army checkpoint near the town of Tell Tamr in the province of al-Hasakah. In 2019, the army established a number of positions in northeastern Syria following a breakthrough agreement with local Kurdish militias. Then, joint Syrian-Russian efforts allowed to limit the Turkish military operation against Kurdish forces and prevent a larger escalation. Nonetheless, sporadic firefights and artillery duels regularly erupt on the contact line between the Turkish Army and its proxies on the one hand and the  Syrian Army and Kurdish militias on the other hand.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition reinforced its military base in the oil-rich area of Rmelan. The US base is located near one of the country’s largest oil fields. It can produce up to 90,000 barrels a day. Earlier, the US military deployed additional equipment and troops to its positions in the area of al-Shaddadi in southern al-Hasakah.

According to the Pentagon, about 500 US troops remain deployed in the oil-rich areas in the provinces of Deir Ezzor and al-Haskah. However, the scale of military activity in the region indicate that the real number of personnel involved is likely higher.

Iraq’s Hezb Allah: Instead of Leaving, The US is Plotting a Civil War in Iraq

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

Kataib Hezbollah Iraq Hezb Allah Brigades

Iraq Hezb Allah Brigades (Kata’ib Hezb Allah) revealed that they have ‘information about dubious US movements to achieve suspicious goals, with the participation of an Iraqi security apparatus’.

The Brigades added that the plot includes ‘airdrops on military, security and PMU positions with ground support and air support’ which will lead to ‘dangerous repercussions, and will cause a humanitarian and societal disaster that is difficult to control’.

The Iraqi Parliament voted to expel the US troops from the country after their role changed from assisting the Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS to bombing and killing Iraqi commanders who were leading the fight against ISIS, the US officials didn’t accept the booting from Iraq orders and vowed to stay there at all costs.

Staying in a hostile environment requires exceptional measures, the Pentagon tried to revive ISIS in Iraq (and in Syria) to justify extending their existence, it didn’t succeed, they tried to prevent forming an Iraqi government and its stooges are playing on time to keep the country in its fail state status, time is running out, it threatened to impose sanctions on the country but that would let Iraq slip completely from its grip into the Iranian grip, so they threatened to impose sanctions on Iraqi officials. That last threat turned out to harm its own assets more than harming those who want to see their country liberated.

While the world is uniting to combat the Coronavirus and its catastrophic impact on the economies of every country, the US officials instead of concentrating their efforts in combating this pandemic and seeking assistance from the rest of the world, bringing back their troops from overseas where they’re not welcomed, are instead plotting to ignite a civil war in Iraq, something they’ve been working on for decades.

Iran - Iraq - Syria Railway

The US is using alleged attacks on its military bases in Iraq as an excuse to target the forces that fought ISIS, especially those positioned at the borders with Syria. The US opposed the reopening of Baghdad – Damascus highway through Iraqi Qaim and Syrian Bu Kamal cities, it’s the road that ISIS put its main focus on blocking and the US continues its efforts to keep it threatened if it cannot secure its closure.
Iran to Reach the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria Railway

Similarly, to how the Turkish madman Erdogan was blocking the M4 and M5 arteries in Syria to strangle the Syrian economy. The M4 is the Syrian part of the Bagdhad – Damascus highway that connects the Baghdad with the Mediterranean through Saraqib.

Iraq’s Hezb Allah Brigades vowed to ‘respond with all force on all the US’s military, security, and economic facilities, with no exceptions’ if the US carries out this plot, they further promised to ‘turn the sites that will be targeted by the US into their graves and a shame that will follow them forever, the US and its accomplices.’

The US doesn’t need Iraq’s oil or any investment there, it’s a massive loss in the long run and they know that very well. All the US’s involvement in the region is to secure the safety of Israel within the maximum territories it can steal. If someone knows any other reason kindly enlighten us in the comments.

Syria News

Mighty “Moderate Rebels” Pressure Turkish Army In Idlib. US-led Coalition Is Crumbling

South Front

The notorious “moderate rebels” have blown up a bridge on the M4 highway in southern Idlib as part of their effort to sabotage the creation of a security zone in the area. The Kafr bridge is located near the town of Jisr al-Shughr, near positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party, both of which are linked to al-Qaeda. Surprisingly, pro-opposition sources publicly admit that the bridge was destroyed to hinder Russian-Turkish plans to conduct joint patrols along the M4. After previous acts of sabotage against the deal, supporters of the Idlib “moderates” opted to blame “Russian barbarians”, “sectarian Iranian militias” or the “puppet Assad regime”. But such claims did not hold water because the rough actions of the Idlib militants were too obvious.

Over the past two weeks, Turkish troops have conducted at least 8 patrols on their own along the M4 highway and participated in 2 joint patrols with Russian Military Police west of Saraqib. However, the presence of the Turkish Army in the area of the supposed security zone did not stop supporters of Idlib armed groups from building barriers with large mounds of earth, blowing up bridges, destroying improvised Turkish road checkpoints and even staging IED attacks on Turkish military columns. The constant threat of terrorist attacks will clearly remain a sad reality of modern Idlib for as long as al-Qaeda-linked groups exist there.

On March 25, a Turkish soldier, Umit Udul, shot himself dead near the town of Ras al-Ayn in northeastern Syria. Kurdish sources claim that he did it as an act of protest against the actions of the Turkish Army in Syria. However, these claims remain unconfirmed. The security situation in the Turkish-controlled part of Syria’s northeast has been deteriorating for months. So, the incident may have been a result of local tensions.

Two Turkish soldiers were killed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, in the area of the Turkish anti-PKK operation “Claw”. The Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed the casualties saying that 8 PKK members were “neutralized” in response to the attack.

Rocket strikes continue hitting US-linked facilities across Iraq. Early on March 26, several rockets were launched at the area of the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. A day earlier, on March 25, unidentified forces shelled Camp Taji, the biggest military base hosting US troops in the country. Regular rocket attacks already forced the US military to evacuate several smaller bases, including the key fortified facility near the Syrian border – al-Qaim. This was done under the pretext of “successes” against ISIS and COVID-19-related issues.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition itself is collapsing. On March 25, Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, announced that French troops had withdrawn from Iraqi territory.

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