Syrian MP to ST: There is no other choice but to launch a large-scale operation to liberate Idleb from terrorists

ST

The Syrian Member of Parliament Safwan Qurabi has underscored that Idleb file represents a mixture between warfare and policy and it could be called a ‘postponed battle’- from a military perspective, but it is هinevitable.

He told the Syriatimes e-newspaper that it is difficult to liberate through policy a large area that includes different groups of terrorists, who have been military and intellectually prepared by the intelligence agencies of Syria’s enemies.

“This operation requires professionalism, intelligence and strength at the same time… Any gain that could be made without the shedding of blood is a gain. But according to our analysis, we have no other choice but to launch a large-scale operation to liberate Idleb due to the existence of extremist terrorists , who came to Syria just to die,” the MP said.

He believes that Turkish silence will make the liberation of Idleb easy for the Syrian state and its allies.

“Syria’s friends are trying to buy Turkey’s silence and to convince it to re-organize the regional situation peacefully for the benefit of all countries, and to return to Adana agreement which is being amended to take the interests of all countries into consideration,” Qurabi stressed.

He added that that Russia and Iran are trying to convince Turkey that it is in the eye of the US storm and it will pay a high price in the future if it does not go along with regional compatibility.

“They [Russia and Iran] hope that the current arrogant and irrational Turkish regime will listen to their advice and they insist on exerting every possible effort to convince it,” the parliamentarian clarified, indicating that despite slow progress at these attempts, there are good indicators for the possibility of witnessing -in the near future- changes in Tukey’s behavior- even if that happened behind the curtain.

“Moving and liberation by fire”

Moreover, Qurabi affirmed that the recent military operations carried out by Syrian army on the outskirts of Idleb province broke the terrorist groups’ solid wall and created a social environment opposing the thought and behavior of the armed terrorist groups.

“Actually, the operations have caused a rift between the Syrian persons living in Idleb province on the one hand and the armed terrorist groups and the Turks on the other. My take is that this rift was clear, so we witnessed unprecedented alert and participation by the Turkish regime in the recent military operations. Add to that, the Russian involvement in the operations was at a very high level and for the first time there was a Turkish-Russian clash behind the curtain on the outskirt of the province [Idleb].”

The MP described the patience of Syria with the Turkish regime as the patience of prophet Ayyoub .

“Turkey puts off the implementation of its Sochi commitments that guarantee the return of large area peacefully and friendly under the patronage of the guarantor countries. Turkey has signed the deal reached on Idleb but it still procrastinating and fabricating pretexts,” Qurabi, whose hometown is Idleb, stated.

He indicated that “Moving and liberation by fire” is the title of the recent military operations carried out in Hama countryside on the outskirts of Idleb in order to secure the areas that were under terror rocket attacks and to liberate some strategic points.

“The military operation is a ‘rolling operation’ in accordance with the facts on the ground . Syria was following up regional and world reactions towards the liberation of Idleb and the possibility of expanding the military operations,” Qurabi said.

He underlined that the decision of liberating Idleb was taken by the axis of Syria’s friends, especially in the light of Ankara’s current policy in the north of Syria.

“Turkey seeks to put down roots for a long term in the Syrian region through making the Turkish language popular in the northern side of Syria and keeping this cultural effect there after the departure of the Turkish occupation forces from the area. It wants the Syrian people who learn the Turkish language to be Turkey’s mouthpiece in Syria,” the MP added.

He concluded by saying: “Idleb will definitely be recaptured by the Syrian state but we may disagree on the number of talks and military operations to reach this goal.”

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

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سورية واستراتيجية استكمال التحرير والتطهير

يوليو 9, 2019

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

في خريف العام الفائت كان المراقبون جميعاً ينتظرون إطلاق عملية تحرير إدلب على يد الجيش السوري وحلفائه ويتوقعون دعماً نارياً روسياً ملائماً لهذه العملية المعقدة والتي يعترضها الكثير من العوائق والصعوبات الناتجة عن ظروف شتى عملانية وسياسية واستراتيجية وحتى ديمغرافية.

لكن روسيا التي وقفت على هذه العقبات وما يرافقها أيضاً من مخاطر التدخل الأميركي والغربي ومع ما تستلزمه من تضحيات وحاجة إلى تحشيد قدر كبير من القوى والطاقات للتنفيذ، روسيا هذه رأت ان تبحث في خيار أخر يؤمّن تحقيق الغاية السورية من جهة، ولا يمسّ بالسعي الروسي إلى تهيئة الظروف المسهّلة لاستعادة دورها الدولي في عداد الصف الأول من القوى الدولية الفاعلة من جهة أخرى.

وقد رمى الخيار الروسي إلى تجنّب التحرير بالعمل العسكري الصاخب والوصول اليه بعملية متدرّجة مركبة تعتمد على تركيا في بعض وجوهها دون إسقاط الدور المركزي للجيش العربي السوري، ولأجل ذلك استبقت روسيا إطلاق عملية تحرير إدلب بعقد اتفاق سوتشي مع تركيا، الاتفاق الذي شاءته بديلاً مرحلياً للعمل العسكري وتوطئة له في نهاية المطاف لكن في ظروف وبيئة مختلفة.

هنا أدركت تركيا حاجة روسيا إليها لتجنّب العمل العسكري، فأبرمت الاتفاق مع نية الانقلاب عليه او إفراغه من مضمونه منذ لحظة توقيعه، ورغم انّ روسيا أدركت هذا الانقلاب والغدر التركي فإنها ولأسباب ذاتية وإقليمية ودولية امتنعت عن مواجهة تركيا وراهنت على إمكانية إعادتها إلى الاتفاق بالقدر المتيسّر لانّ لروسيا مصالح استراتيجية مع تركيا ترى انّ عدم تحقيقها الآن قد يعني استحالة تحقيقها مطلقاً في المستقبل.

فروسيا تدرك انّ فشل تركيا في مشروعها الإقليمي العام المتضمّن سيطرة الإخوان المسلمين بقيادتها على كامل المنطقة، وانّ برودة العلاقة مع الغرب الأوروبي حتى وجفافها انْ لم نقل أكثر، وانّ شبه العزلة الإقليمية التي تعاني منها تركيا نتيجة تشكل العداوات التي تصبغ علاقاتها مع كلّ دول المنطقة إلا القليل منها قطر مثلاً روسيا تدرك ظروف تركيا هذه وتتصوّر أنها اللحظة المناسبة لجذب تركيا اليها وتجميد موقعها في الحلف الأطلسي وتحييدها في الصراع بين الشرق والغرب، أهداف إذا تحققت تكون قد أحدثت انقلاباً استراتيجياً في العلاقات الدولية ومستقبل النظام العالمي برمّته، انقلاب يكون طبعاً لصالح روسيا على حساب أوروبا وأميركا.

لهذه الأسباب رأت روسيا انّ مسايرة تركيا او ممالأتها وغضّ النظر عن تراجعها في تنفيذ الاتفاقات حول إدلب وسواها في سورية هو أمر متسامَح به إذا تمّ النظر اليه من باب المصالح الاستراتيجية الروسية الكبرى التي يحققها هذا التسامح او التساهل، وفي الوقت نفسه رأت تركيا انّ بإمكانها استثمار الحاجة الروسية تلك إلى الحدّ الأقصى من أجل منع عملية تحرير إدلب ومنحها الوقت اللازم لفرض مشروعها الخاص او تحقيق أكبر قدر من المكاسب في سورية، مكاسب تعوّل عليها لحجب أو تخفيف مفاعيل فشلها الاستراتيجي الإقليمي العام الذي لم يبق لها تقريب سوى الميدان التونسي محلاً لتحقيق الربح والميدان الليبي محلاً للمناورة.

في ظلّ هذا الوضع، ومع توجه الإرهابيين في إدلب وبدعم تركي لجرّ الجيش السوري إلى حرب استنزاف في أرياف حماة وحلب وإدلب، لحرفه عن عملية التحرير وإشغاله عن الخطة العدوانية التركية، اتخذت سورية قراراً ترجمت به استقلالية القرار السوري وعملت وفقاً لجدول الأولويات العسكرية السورية مع مراعاتها للإمكانات الميدانية والظروف الإقليمية والدولية، واعتمدت في ذلك استراتيجية مطوّرة تقوم على مقومات أربعة هي:

1 ـ الحركة الدائمة والمتواصلة والمدروسة في الميدان وتجنّب الوقوع في فخ حرب الاستنزاف كما تجنّب إعطاء الذرائع للقوى المعادية ومكوّنات معسكر العدوان بقيادة أميركية، الذرائع التي تستغلّ من أجل العدوان المباشر على قوات وتشكيلات ومراكز الجيش العربي السوري.

2 ـ اقتياد التجمّعات الإرهابية إلى حرب تستنزفها وتضعفها وتشتّت قواها وتدمّر مراكزها النارية والقيادية بما يمنعها عن شنّ عمليات عسكرية واسعة تمكّنها من احتلال أرض وإفساد أمنها.

3 ـ تحرير الأرض بالقضم المتتابع المتدرّج وإنتاج بيئة عملانية ملائمة لإطلاق عملية التحرير الإلزامية النهائية التي لا يمكن إغفالها في مسيرة استعادة إدلب إلى حضن الدولة والوصول إلى الحدود الدولية مع تركيا بعد إجهاض المشروع التركي في سورية.

4 ـ تحييد القدر الأكبر من المدنيين في المنطقة وإتاحة الفرص لهم للانتقال إلى مناطق آمنة وتجنيبهم مخاطر الحرب.

لقد انطلقت سورية في تنفيذ خطتها تلك مع علمها الكامل باهتمامات الآخرين ومصالحهم، ووقوفها على وجهتي النظر القائمتين حول تحرير إدلب… وجهة النظر الداعية إلى الحلول السياسية مع ضغط عسكري ووجهة النظر الرامية إلى العمل العسكري المنتج لحلول سياسية، في مواجهة خطط معسكر العدوان المتمثلة في الاستراتيجية الأميركية الرامية إلى إطالة أمد الصراع ومنع تحرير إدلب وشرقي الفرات في الوقت الراهن، والخطة التركية الرامية إلى إنشاء مناطق نفوذ في الأرض السورية تحت تسميات متعدّدة تتقاطع كلها عند فكرة السيطرة التركية الميدانية على قطاع من الأرض يمكن تركيا من التأثير في القرار السوري المركزي.

لكن سورية التي عرفت كيف تخوض المواجهة وأخذت بعين النظر ما يشتمل عليه الميدان والإقليم من مؤثرات، واختارت ما يناسبها، حيث أثبتت الوقائع القائمة أنها نجحت في خيارها الاستراتيجي وحققت حتى الآن مكاسب لا بأس بها تستطيع ان تبني عليها خلال الأسابيع المقبلة لتتوسّع في عملية التحرير بالقضم المتتابع، وتفكيك فصائل الإرهاب وإعاقة لا بل منع المشروع التركي من تحقيق أهدافه، ويبدو أنّ هناك محطة مهمة في شهر آب المقبل تتمثل في الاجتماع الثلاثي الروسي الإيراني التركي، اجتماع قد يعوّل عليه من أجل مزيد من كشف الخطط التركية العدوانية وللتأكيد على انّ الوقت شارف على النفاذ ولن يكون بوسع تركيا أن تناور بشكل إضافي.

وعليه نرى وربطاً بين ملفي تحرير ما تبقى في سورية، وإنقاد الاتفاق النووي الإيراني، نرى انّ مطلع أيلول المقبل سيكون تاريخاً للخيارات الاستراتيجية الهامة، فإما تكيّف دولي مع إرادة سورية في التحرير وإيرانية في ممارسة الحقوق الوطنية المتصلة بملفها النووي ورفض الحرب الاقتصادية، أو تصعيد ومواجهة ستكون منطقة إدلب محلاً لها لانطلاق التحرير عسكرياً، مع احتمال احتكاك محدود مسيطر عليه بين إيران ومن يستهدفها يكون الخليج بشكل خاص ميدانه الأكثر احتمالاً وبهذا سيؤكد مجدّداً نجاح الصبر الاستراتيجي الذي مارسته إيران في استراتيجية النقطة نقطة ومارسته سورية باستراتيجية القضم المتتابع.

أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي

Turkey allegedly seeking to annex Idlib, northern Aleppo: report

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:00 P.M.) – Turkey is allegedly seeking to annex the Idlib Governorate and the northern region of Aleppo, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported, citing the Arab-language publication Al-Arabi Jadid.

According to the Fars News report, Turkey is taking preliminary steps to install their political rhetoric and military occupation of these areas.

They continued that the main obstacle for Turkey is the presence of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) terrorists, noting that the Turkish officials have told them that this jihadist group will be dissolved by the year-end, through either war or peace to leave the Russians with no excuse to continue their military operations in the region.

Fars News added that the interim government affiliated to the dissidents will gain control of the bordering corridors between Syria and Turkey and the residents of these regions will be provided with main services with the revenues of these passageways.

The likelihood of this happening, however, is very slim, given the fact that both Russia and Turkey are pushing for a constitutional committee and the reopening of the highways between the government and opposition areas.

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Differences Deepen between Russia, Turkey on Idlib

Differences Deepen between Russia, Turkey on Idlib
Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:25
TEHRAN (FNA)- Differences between Russia and Turkey have increased amid the Syrian army’s air and ground offensives against the terrorist groups’ positions and moves in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.

Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) terrorists stationed near the towns of al-Hawijeh and Shir Maqar in Northwestern Hama targeted the residential areas in the towns of al-Rasid and al-Aziziyeh in Qalat al-Maziq region with rockets, killing two children and wounding several other civilians.

Meantime, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported on Thursday that the Syrian army’s artillery and missile units responded the attacks by destroying the terrorists’ positions in the towns of Abu Ra’eideh, Hasraya, al-Latamineh, Kafar Zita, al-Hawijeh and Shir Maqar in Northwestern Hama, inflicting a heavy toll on the militants.

Also, the Syrian air force in several airstrikes bombed Tahrir al-Sham’s bases near Khan Sheikhoun, Hasaneh, al-Naqir, Abedin, Kanasfareh, Babolin and al-Habit, smashing a number of them and killing the terrorists inside.

It also quoted analysts as saying that continued dispatch of the Turkish army’s military convoys to Northern Syria and Russia’s airstrikes against the Ankara-backed militants in the region indicated increased differences between Russia and Turkey on Idlib.

Al-Watan had also reported in June that Turkey ordered Tahrir al-Sham to reinforce strategic military positions in Jbal al-Zawiyeh in Idlib province after it turned down Russia’s demand for withdrawing militants from the region.

It wrote that with an aim to confront the Syrian Army in Northern Hama, Tahrir al-Sham has sent large volumes of its military equipment to al-Jolmeh to North of Mahradeh.

“Turkey’s intelligence body has asked Tahrir al-Sham and other terrorist groups in Northern Syria to reinforce its defense lines, including 50 towns and villages up to the city of Ariha in Aleppo-Lattakia international highway as clean-up operation by the Syrian and Russian armies in Jabal al-Zawiyeh in Idlib is imminent,” al-Watan quoted local and opposition sources in Idlib as saying.

The sources reiterated that Turkey’s operations room in Shir Mughar region in Jabal Shahshabou in Northern Hama where terrorists are constantly supported in terms of weapons, ammunition and intelligence has warned terrorists that the Syrian army might soon capture Jbal Shahshabou which overlooks Sahl al-Ghab in Northwestern Hama and towns to the South of Idlib and then advance towards Jabal al-Zawiyeh.

The newspaper also further quoted the sources as saying that Russia had recently asked Turkey to make terrorists retreat from Jbal Shahshabou region in Northwestern Hama and Kabani town in Northeastern Lattakia which are regarded as the Southern and Western gates of Idlib, but Ankara has strongly turned down the demand.

Meantime, the Arabic-language al-Youm news website quoted media activists in Idlib province as saying that after supplying advanced weapons to terrorists, Ankara has ordered them to launch new attacks in Northern Hama to recapture the town of al-Saqilbieh.

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Trump, Erdogan and the buffer zone in Syria ترامب وأردوغان والمنطقة العازلة في سورية

Trump, Erdogan and the buffer zone in Syria

فبراير 21, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The statements of the US President Donald Trump about his decision to withdraw from Syria include that he grants all Syria to the Turkish President Recep Erdogan who was notified that by a phone call with Trump who published that later in a tweet. The US National Security Advisor John Bolton came to the region and he made number of statements after his meetings with Israeli officials, he said that he would inform the Turkish officials and the President Erdogan that attacking the Kurds; the allies of America is something unallowable. Therefore, all of Syria became for Erdogan except the areas under the Kurdish control. When Bolton arrived to Ankara, Erdogan refused to receive him and he told him harsh words that Turkey does not get orders regarding its national security and that Washington does not distinguish between the Kurds and the militants whom it supports. Trump replied that if Turkey attacked the Kurdish militants, its Turkish economy will be collapsed. The Turks responded that they do not care about the US threat. Then a phone call between Trump and Erdogan took place that was followed by an understanding on a buffer zone established by Turkey on the Syrian borders under the consent and the support of Washington. As a result, there was a Turkish promoting campaign about its intention to establish a security buffer zone.

This context is unbelievable as political and operational plans between a super power named America and a major regional country named Turkey. The Tweets and the phone calls by the US President and his issuing statements such as “All of Syria is yours” “Do not approach from the Kurds” “I will destroy the Turkish economy” and “we support a buffer zone” do not indicate only that he is funny, but also that the Turkish President is funny too, because their feeling of inability needs something in media to support them. It is not forgettable the positions which focused on  the American-Turkish serious research in the project of the buffer zone and how the considerations  of the American and Turkish forces lead to dismiss the risk of turning this wish into a realistic project.

Trump wants us to be convinced that he is able to support Erdogan to establish a buffer zone, while he is withdrawing from Syria, although he was unable to do so while his forces were in Syria. While Erdogan wants us to be convinced that he is capable to establish a buffer zone after he fled from the battle of Aleppo and left his group defeated moving to Astana understandings to get the Russian and the Iranian appeal to avoid the confrontation which he fears, although he was unable to establish it when he challenged Russia and dropped its plane while he was leading the armed groups which had control over half of Syria. He may think that after his failure in implementing his commitments in Idlib, he can barter the coverage of the military operation which became an inevitable duty on the Syrian army, with getting a consolation prize to enter to some of the Syrian border villages. He does not understand yet that the Syrian-Russian-Iranian understanding is based on the withdrawal of all the forces which do not have legal understandings with the Syrian country and not to bargain on the Syrian sovereignty and the unity of its territories.

One stable fact approved by the Syrian position towards Erdogan’s statements that the alliance of defeated will not get during in its weakness what he wanted to get during its strength and that the Syrian country is ready for all possibilities including firing if necessary to prevent affecting its sovereignty and unity. His foolish statements have one benefit; to convince the Kurdish leaderships of the nature of their American ally and that the Syrian country is their only guarantor of security of land and people.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

ترامب وأردوغان والمنطقة العازلة في سورية 

يناير 16, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– بعد تصريحات للرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب في تفسير قراره بالانسحاب من سورية، تضمّنت قوله إنه يمنح سورية كلها للرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، بكلمات تبلّغها أردوغان على الهاتف في اتصال مع ترامب، نشر محتواها ترامب في تغريدة يقول فيها «لقد قلت لأردوغان إن سورية كلها لك»، جاء مستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي جون بولتون إلى المنطقة وأطلق بعد لقاءاته بالمسؤولين الإسرائيليين تصريحات يقول فيها إنه سيبلغ المسؤولين الأتراك والرئيس أردوغان بأن المساس بالأكراد كحلفاء لأميركا ممنوع، فصار الموقف الأميركي عنوانه سورية كلها لأردوغان ما عدا مناطق السيطرة الكردية، وعندما وصل بولتون إلى أنقرة رفض أردوغان استقباله وسمع كلاماً قاسياً مضمونه أن تركيا لا تتلقى التعليمات في ما يخصّ أمنها القومي، وأن واشنطن لا تميز بين الأكراد والمسلحين الذين تدعمهم، فردّ ترامب بأنه إذا مسّت تركيا بالمسلحين الأكراد فسوف يدمر الاقتصاد التركي، ورد الأتراك بأنهم لا يأبهون بالتهديد الأميركي، وتم اتصال هاتفي بين ترامب وأردوغان أعقبه كلام مشترك عن التفاهم على منطقة عازلة تقيمها تركيا على الحدود مع سورية بموافقة ودعم من واشنطن، وبدأت حملة تسويق تركية لنظرية قديمة جديدة عن عزمها إقامة منطقة أمنية عازلة.

– هذا السياق يقول إن ما أمامنا هو أقل من أن نصدقه كخطط سياسية وعملياتية بين دولة عالمية عظمى هي أميركا ودولة إقليمية كبرى هي تركيا، فالانتقال بتغريدات على تويتر واتصالات هاتفية من قبل الرئيس الأميركي بمواقف تراوحت من «قلت له سورية كلها لك» إلى «إياك والمساس بالأكراد» إلى «سأدمّر الاقتصاد التركي» إلى «ندعم إقامة منطقة عازلة» لا يدلّ على خفة الرئيس الأميركي فقط، بل وعلى خفة الرئيس التركي أيضاً، وشعورهما معاً بالعجز والضعف حاجتهما لـ»البهورات» الإعلامية لصناعة قوة ليس بين يدَيْ كل منهما، ولم تكن بيدهما معاً يوم كانا معاً، والذاكرة ليست ببعيدة عن المواقف التي شكّل محورها في بحث جدي أميركي تركي في مشروع المنطقة العازلة، وكيف كانت الحسابات المشتركة لمصادر القوة الأميركية والتركية تؤدي لصرف النظر عن المخاطرة بتحويل هذه الأمنية مشروعاً واقعياً.

– يريد ترامب منا أن نقتنع أنه قادر على تقديم المساندة لأردوغان لإقامة المنطقة العازلة وهو ينسحب من سورية، بعدما لم يكن قادراً على ذلك وقواته موجودة في سورية. ويريد أردوغان منا أن نقتنع بأنه قادر على إقامة المنطقة العازلة بعدما هرب من معركة حلب وترك جماعته تُهزم، واستدار إلى تفاهمات أستانة، باحثاً عن الرضا الروسي والإيراني تفادياً للمواجهة التي يخشاها، وهو لم يكن قادراً على إقامتها يوم تحدّى روسيا وأسقط طائرتها وكان في ذروة قيادته للجماعات المسلحة التي كانت يومها تسيطر على نصف سورية، إلا إذا كانت الخفة قد بلغت به حدّ التوهم أنه بعد فشله في تنفيذ تعهداته في إدلب قادر على عرض المقايضة بين تغطية العملية العسكرية التي باتت قدراً حتمياً هناك، على يد الجيش السوري، بالحصول على ما يسمّيه جائزة ترضية بالدخول إلى بعض القرى الحدودية السورية، وهو لم يفهم بعد أن التفاهم السوري الروسي الإيراني قائم على ركيزة على تراجع عنها هي، انسحاب جميع القوات التي لا تربطها تفاهمات قانونية مع الدولة السورية وعدم المساومة على السيادة السورية ووحدة التراب السوري في ظلها.

– الحقيقة الثابتة التي أكدها الموقف السوري من تصريحات أردوغان هي أن حلف المهزومين لن يحصل في زمن الضعف على ما فشل في الحصول عليه في ذروة زمن القوة، وأن الدولة السورية مستعدّة لكل الاحتمالات بما فيها إطلاق النار إذا اقتضى الأمر ذلك لمنع المساس بسيادتها ووحدتها، وأن لتصريحاته الحمقاء فائدة واحدة هي إقناع القيادات الكردية بطبيعة حليفهم الأميركي، وأحادية خيار وضع أوراقهم كلها في عهدة دولتهم السورية كضامن وحيد لأمن الأرض والشعب في سورية.

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JAN. 30, 2019: INTENSE CLASHES, ARTILLERY DUELS ERUPT IN IDLIB DE-MILITARIZED ZONE

South Front

30.01.2019

The situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone is slowly escalating with an increased number of artillery duels and clashes between pro-government fighters and militants taking place there on a daily basis.

On January 29, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and Jaysh al-Izza reportedly attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the villages of Maan and Atshan in northern Hama. The SAA responded by shelling the areas of Tamanah, Tal Teri, Tal Suayk, Suayk, Morek and Tal Huwayr. Early on January 30, artillery strikes were also reported near the militant-held villages of al-Tah and al-Lataminah. Both sides are accused of using heavy artillery and grad rockets, openly showing that the de-militarization zone agreed by Turkey and Russia has not in fact been established in the area.

The situation is also tense in northern Lattakia and western Aleppo, but the daily intensity of strikes there is lower.

Recently, a new group of SAA troops arrived in the area of Abu al-Duhur Airport. According to the Russian military, on January 22, up to 200 Hayat Tahrir al-Sham members attacked SAA positions in the area, but this advance was repelled.

The political leadership of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and thus the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued their PR efforts to rescue themselves from the political and security dead end, in which they appeared to fiind themselves after the US announcement of troops withdrawal.

So far, YPG, SDF representatives have already claimed that:

  • They invite Damascus to their areas;
  • They do not invite Damascus to enter Manbij;
  • They are negotiating with Damascus;
  • They are not negotiating with Damascus;
  • They are ready to find “an understanding” with Turkey;
  • They’ve provided Russia and Damascus with a list of demands for negotiations;

On January 29, Ilham Ahmed, the co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, a formal political body of the SDF, claimed that there are no signs of the US troops withdrawal from Syria saying that the situation is “just like before” Trump’s announcement.

On January 28, Syria and Iran signed 11 deals and memoranda of understanding covering fields including the economy, culture, education, infrastructure, investment and housing. They were signed during a visit to Damascus by Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri. The gorwing Syrian-Iranian cooperation shows that the US-Israeli bloc key goal – to push Iran out of Syria – is something unlikely even theoretically.

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Ankara stalls the Sochi agreement while Washington builds new military bases in Syria: some thoughts on the recent developments

December 13, 2018

by Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog

Three months have passed since the Sochi areement on the so called Idlib demilitarized zone. The terms of the deal were that all jihadist rebels labelled as terrorists by all parties to the deal were to be evacuated out of the area. This responsibility would lie with Turkey due to Ankara’s clout among the jihadists. But so far there are no signs of jihadists leaving. As a matter of fact things are looking very much similar to the so called ceasefires brokered by Washington and Moscow, where jihadists used the ceasefires to rearm and regroup, only to launch new attacks and kill more Syrian soldiers and civilians the very next day. Let’s not also forget last months chemical weapons attack on Aleppo by the jihadist rebels. Ankara has essentially done nothing to prevent these jihadists from conducting daily attacks across the so called demilitarized zone and have on numerous occasions been called out by the Syrian government for their failure to implement the deal.

It could be argued that these ceasefires have always served to benefit at least one side of the warring parties, acting more like pauses for each side to lick their wounds and/or rotate troops. In the past, Washington used them to save their beleaguered jihadist proxies in Aleppo as the Syrian Army and their allies were about to break the deadlock after 4 years of battle.

But Moscow and Damascus have also used these ceasefires to their own advantage. When the Turkish-Iranian-Russian brokered ceasefire of last year was implemented, the Syrian Army were given a golden opportunity to move their troops and focus completely on the Islamic State threat, allowing the Syrian Army to recapture swathes of territory. This latest ceasefire came as a result of Ankara’s urging. The situation before the Sochi agreement was very tense, with the Astana process in danger as Syria and her allies were preparing themselves for a final blow on the last jihadist strongholds in the northern parts of the country, a move that Turkey has vehemently rejected and vowed to stop.

At the same time, Washington and its cohorts were preparing a new false flag chemical attack in Idlib to blame on Syrian government forces, creating another pretext for defending their beloved jihadists. As the situation was getting out of hand quickly, with Ankara even plotting to assist Washington with strikes against Damascus, Moscow saw no choice but to put the planned offensive on hold and enter the Sochi agreement with Ankara.

At that moment, it was the right decision for Moscow to make. Things were getting out of hand and needed to be de-escalated. But the poor way this agreement has been handled by Ankara must have the people over in Moscow thinking what their next move should be. Should they give the green light for a new Syrian Army offensive and risk confronting Turkish forces or has Ankara been bluffing all the way to the negotiations table?

Israel steps out of line

The costly mistake that the Zionist regime in Tel Aviv committed on September 17, when they caused the downing of an Il-20 ELINT reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 Russian servicemen on board, changed the situation on the ground. Thinking that it was business as usual, this act of aggression did not come without consequences for Syria’s enemies as this prompted Moscow to arm Syria with the fearsome S-300 missile system. Since then, Zionist warplanes have not entered Syria to attack Syrian and allied forces despite both Tel Aviv and Washington’s initial dismissal of the S-300 system as a non-threat to their air forces.

This begs the question; if the S-300 is a non-threat to their “superior aircraft”, then why have they been so vocal about their opposition to Moscow supplying the S-300 to Iran and Syria? If this system is so useless as they portray it, what does Washington have to fear? Indeed supplying the S-300 missile system to Syria has to be considered as greatly improving Syria’s ability to defend her airspace more efficiently. Should Israel attack Syria once more, they better be prepared to face a more powerful air defence this time.

With the air threat reduced (and Israeli warplanes in danger), Washington is intensifying its presence on the ground. Recently several US representatives, including Mike Pompeo have made it abundantly clear that Washington will remain in Syria until “Iranian forces have withdrawn”, which essentially means until regime change has been achieved. But getting “Iranian forces” out of Syria might not be Washington’s only headache.

A new front is about to be opened

Meanwhile Ankara is mobilizing its forces for a new operation aimed at the US-backed “Syrian Democratic Forces”. Responding to this escalation, Washington intensifies its presence in the north-eastern parts of Syria too.

If one is to believe the latest reports, Ankara has mobilized 14000 “rebels” for an operation in SDF territory. Defense Department spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson was quick to condemn this move.

“Unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern,” Robertson said on Wednesday when asked about Turkey’s announcement. “We would find any such actions unacceptable… coordination and consultation between the US and Turkey is the only approach to address issues of security concern in this area.”

It remains to be seen what Ankara will make of this US threat and how Washington would respond if Ankara starts the operation. Anarchy still rules large parts of Syria. With no end to the ruthless fighting in sight, what does the year 2019 hold for Syria?

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