The situation in the Syrian province of Idlib continues to heat up. Recently, more frequent exacerbations have occurred, and it seems that everything is moving towards the fact that soon the Syrian Arab army will launch an attack on the positions of militants holding the governorate. But until that happens, the militants are using the agreement on the demilitarized zone and make regular attacks on the positions of the pro-Assad forces. For example, one of these attacks was committed the other day.
Near Idlib, near the village of Masasna, on the outskirts of Hama, terrorists unexpectedly attacked government forces. This ended in a bloody clash, in which Damascus lost 21 fighters. The attackers also did not go without losses, although they are much smaller – only five people. The attackers, according to preliminary information, are part of the radical group Ansar al-Tawhid. It is somehow connected with Dzhebhat en-Nusra and al Qaeda.
After a relatively short battle, the terrorists quickly went deep into Idlib and thereby cut off Damascus the opportunity to pursue them. And all for the same reason that, firstly, for a small group of military it would be suicidal – there are tens of thousands of militants of various groups on the border with Idlib, and secondly, the Turkish side and the moderate opposition entrenched here could perceive it as a gross violation of Sochi agreement between Erdogan and Putin. And this may threaten a serious destabilization of the already troubled region of the SAR.
But on the other hand, this case clearly demonstrates the fact that the Sochi agreement does not work that way. Rather, it works, but for some reason only the formations of the Syrian Arab army and friendly structures should adhere to it. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, by the way, drew Ankara’s attention to this and urged her to fulfill her duties. Obviously not.
The Turks, of course, are preoccupied with the problem of Dzhebhat an-Nusra as well as, often mentioned Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham. They have already warned the leaders of this terrorist entity several times about the possibility of a military solution to their issue if there is no voluntary self-dissolution. But diplomacy did not bring success. Strange, however, that for some reason, Ankara has never even considered the possibility of using military force. Still, the Turkish military is fully present in Idlib and, in principle, together with the Syrian free army, they could pacify the radicals without any problems. Of course, after this, there will be risks of mistrust towards Ankara by the local opposition, however, it should be noted that Dzhebhat an-Nusra regularly fights with this very opposition. So these terrorists are a headache for everybody, so it’s strange why Erdogan had withdrawn from the solution of the problem that concerns everyone. So he would be able to achieve even greater respect in the northwest ATS, and in big politics his step did not go unnoticed, but alas, when it is necessary to wait for decisive actions from Erdogan, it is difficult.
As for Russia, it is a hostage to this situation. Putin agreed with Erdogan and recalled the Assad legions, who were preparing to return to the ATS rebellious region. Whoever said, but the Russian president kept his word, and fulfilled his part of the deal. Only this honesty and integrity in this case, probably, turned out to be superfluous – after all, one of the parties to the agreements is somehow the terrorists. And to believe that they, on someone’s call, will lay down their arms, at least, strange. Moreover, these thugs themselves declared the continuation of the “jihad” on the very day when the results of the negotiations between Erdogan and Putin on Idlib became known.
Sources in the military leadership of the Russian Federation reports that a military solution to the problem of the Dzhebkhat an-Nusra is now overdue. Moreover, Russian aviation has been repeatedly involved in strikes in Idlib in recent weeks, although it’s still limited. In the course of the recent talks, including at the highest level, the Russian and Turkish sides discussed the need for the earliest possible prevention of military provocations. Moreover, the Turks pointed to some violations by Damascus. In their opinion, to solve the problem of Tahrir ash-Sham, the Syrian Arab army in no case should be launched into Idlib. Moscow is well aware of this, so if Russian side together with the Syrians somehow takes part, it will only be air support or artillery. On the ground, all the issues are likely to be solved by the Turks with the help of groups included in the National Front for Liberation. And about the losses among the Syrians – in the last month they really grew due to the activation of terrorists in the border areas.