On March 23, Russian and Turkish forces carried out a second limited joint patrol in southern Idlib. The patrol involved six armoured vehicles and took place along a short chunk of the M4 highway west of the government-controlled town of Saraqib. This part of the highway remains the only safe place within the entire security zone, which was set to be established in the framework of the Russian-Turkish de-escalation agreement.
After the March 23 patrol, the Turkish side got additional time to neutralize terrorists and radicals entrenched in the agreed to buffer zone. This was the second time when Moscow provided Ankara with such an opportunity. However, Ankara seems to be taking very little or no efforts to do so.
Over the past days, the Turkish Army established observation points near Khattab and Msheirfeh and made a formal attempt to de-block the highway removing earthen mounds made by terrorists. Despite these heroic efforts of the Turkish military, the M4 remains in the hands of al-Qaeda-linked groups and the security zone there exists only on paper. Such a situation on the ground is slowly but inevitably leading to the resumption of hostilities in the region.
Humanitarian conditions are deteriorating in the Rukban refugee camp within the US-controlled zone of al-Tanf. According to media reports, people in the camp have to pay money for tents and the bare necessities, and are forcefully recruited into the ranks of US-backed militant groups. Additionally, militants sabotage the evacuation of refugees from the camp.
A series of IED attacks rocked the town of Tabqah, controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on March 21. IED explosions targeted positions, vehicles and personnel of the SDF next to the Andalusia pool and the Maysalun roundabout. 6 SDF members were reportedly killed. Pro-opposition sources immediately blamed ‘Assad agents’ for the attack. Kurdish sources blame ISIS and Turkey.
On March 22, the SDF released 80 ISIS members that had been captured during the combat operations along the eastern bank of the Euphrates. All the released individuals are reportedly Syrian citizens, from the governorates of Raqqa, al-Hasakah and Deir Ezzor. During the last few years, the SDF has released hundreds of ex-ISIS fighters.
The group often does this for money or upon request from influential figures, like tribal leaders, businessmen and local commanders. This SDF behavior likely contributed to the reemergence of ISIS cells in eastern Syria. Last week, ISIS announced that its fighters had assassinated 40 people in the province of Deir Ezzor during the last 3 months alone.
Shoigu went to talk to Assad yesterday. He carried a message from Putin. It certainly was relative to the strategic goals Putin has chartered which require immense patience while Erdogan runs out his string. At some point, the Russians and Syrians will have to do what the Turks are incapable of doing. Idlib has to be cleared.
However, the US has been trying to break the alliance of Russia-Turkey and Syria/Iran. The coming weeks will see what the Russia strategy entails. The most crucial part certainly is to keep Syria from battling the Turks. Putin has long-range plans for the area and keeping Erdogan away from the US and NATO is crucial.
Syria’s strategy is uncomplicated. Clear Idlib all the way to the border, then turn eastward and, using the tribal and militia forces, take back all the oil fields from the Kurds and the US troops.
cassad’s link to ISW summary of attacks by “Iran proxies.: (posted here to illlustrate the unrelenting zionist push for war with Iran).
ISW is one of the more rabid neo con warmonger “think tanks. It is directed by one of the kagans, Kimberly,is very well funded, and is well connected in the dc neo con warmongering circles as well as with members of congress.
The kagan family has been very active in war advisory roles: nuland, husband robert (brookings), ISW director Kimberly, and husband Fred (AEI). They are all wired into the brookings, AEI, tanks, also govt or quasi govt institutions (NED).
This org, its board, and its links illustrates how ubiquitous this neo con influence is over the warmongering policies of the dc cess pool and how evident the futility is of expecting any change.
Indeed, kimberly and fred were in Afghanistan with petraeus when he commanded that disaster. They were part of command briefings, had access to classified intell, etc. They were part of the command group under petraeus in the obama fiasco but were never in the military or formerly part of the govt.
That’s what Putin gets for talking to Erdougan.
Honestly, I don’t even see how Putin can trust a single word coming out of Erdougan’s mouth or even expect Erdougan to do what Erdougan said he will do. This is becoming as ridiculous as Ukraine where Putin has been patiently waiting for Ukraine to fulfill the Minks agreements for what, several years now. Ukraine will NEVER do it, as long as they got the backing of USA/NATO/EU. Exact same situation is developing in Syria. Erdougan has the backing of USA/NATO so he will act pretty much anyway he wants.
Sorry, but Putin is seriously stuck. Worse, it seems we will be stuck with Putin for at least 10 more years.
Beyond ludicrous. When you try to please everyone the way Putin has done, he has ended up pleasing nobody.