Syrian Army Pounding ISIS Cells In Homs Desert. Turkey Fortifies Positions Near Saraqib
The military situation in northwestern Syria is steadily escalating.
On April 10 and April 11, the Turkish Army and its proxies shelled positions of Kurdish armed groups in northern Aleppo. The most intense shelling took place near the areas of Tell Rifaat, Sheikh Hilal, Bosoufane, al-Malikiyah, Maraanaz, Kaft Anoun, Kasht’ar, al-Irshadiyah and Menagh Air Base.
On April 12, the Kurdish-led Afrin Liberation Forces announced that they had stricken a position of the Turkish Army near in the area of Sherava in the same part of Syria with an anti-tank guided missile. According to the Kurdish group, 3 Turkish soldiers were killed and 3 others were injured. 2 vehicles of Turkish forces were allegedly destroyed.
Both Turkish forces and Kurdish armed groups claim that their attacks are retaliatory strikes only and accuse each other of regular acts of aggression and terrorism.
The Russian Military Police is reportedly working to establish four new observation posts near the town of Tell Tamr in Syria’s northeast. According to local sources, Russian forces have already checked the area and are now preparing to establish permanent positions near al-Abush, Umm Kayf, Abu Rasin and Zirkan.
Kurdish sources claim that this move is a forced measure needed to put an end to regular ceasefire violations by the Turkish Army and its proxies. Despite these claims, the Turkish-Russian ceasefire deal on the operation of Turkey’s Operation Spring Shield still works successfully preventing a resumption of large-scale hostilities in the region.
In southern Idllib, the Turkish Army is fortifying its positions near the contact line with Syrian forces near the town of Saraqib. According to the Syrian Army, at least 50 Turkish vehicles entered the region of Greater Idlib on April 12 only. Pro-government sources describe such actions as a signal that the Turkish military is not planning to fight against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Idlib, but rather preparing for a new round of confrontation with the Syrian Armed Forces.
On April 11 and April 12, intense artillery duels between the Syrian Army and Turkish proxies were reported near the town of al-Bara in southern Idlib and Hdadah Hilltop in northern Lattakia. Later, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) claimed that its forces had repelled a Syrian Army attack in the vicinity of the town of Kafr Taa in western Aleppo. Militants claimed that an officer of pro-government forces was killed. Pro-Damascus sources reported no notable clashes in the area, but such claims by Idlib armed groups are a useful signal of the current level of tensions in the region. Greater Idlib is steadily moving towards the resumption of full-scale military hostilities.
The Syrian Army and its allies fully repelled ISIS attacks near al-Sukhnah and Wadi al-Waer in the province of Homs killing two dozens of terrorists, according to pro-government sources. Clashes in the area broke out last week after ISIS cells conducted a large attack on positions of Syrian troops involved in a security operation in the area. Pro-militant sources claim that up to 40 Syrian soldiers were killed in the confrontation with the terrorists.
Currently, the army is deploying reinforcements to the countryside of al- Sukhnah. Most likely, government forces are planning to conduct a new security operation against ISIS cells hiding in the desert.
It has been very clear for many months that Erdogan is daring the Russians to attack his troops and convoys. He clearly believes the weakness in Putin’s strategy is Russian reluctance to lose Turkish relationship for geopolitical and economic reasons. Thus, Erdogan assumes he will be allowed his war for Syrian turf and to dislodge Assad as leader of the Syrian nation.
Of course, the Russians will arm the Syrians and whoever fights alongside them, militias and Hezbollah. More tanks, artillery and armored vehicles coming down the Black Sea Syrian Express are clear indication that a broader, deeper massing of firepower will be employed against Erdogan’s armed forces (military and proxies).
It might even mean that some Kurds who have reached accommodation with Assad will get heavy arms to use against the Turks’ flanks.
I think Erdogan is trying to match wits with the Russian General Staff. This will prove fatal to the Turks.
As long as the Russian EW and missile defenses control the airspace knocking out Turk’s drones, the Syrians will punish the Turks badly.
I believe Putin is allowing the big buildup by Erdogan so that the mass of casualties will be the final move of the Emperor of Ankara. Erdogan is a very slow learner. He will need to suffer hundreds of 200s and 300s to end his adventurism in Syria.
Russia doesn’t have to fight the Turks. They only have to see to it that the Turks lose and lose badly.
Russia has played a long term strategy of patience and steady pressure with Turkey. When Turkey shot down the Russian SU-24 in 2015, Putin’s response was to impose economic sanctions, instead of a military retaliation. I think Russia intends to slowly and steadily ease Turkey out of Syria without a major conflict brewing up between them.
The cherry on top would be widespread public Turkish anger against Erdogan over his misadventures in Syria and Libya, and his removal from power. But simply getting Turkey out of Syria, while remaining on decent terms with Russia, would be good enough.
The hard part is dealing with the US (and Israeli) occupation of the Syrian oilfields. I think that would require a regional effort, and no solution will be coming anytime soon.
This is interesting.
Militants Surrendered to Syrian Army Say Were Trained on US Military Base – Russian Military
“The surrendered militants said that US instructors had been preparing them for terrorist acts and sabotage at oil and gas and transport facilities, according to the information provided by the Russian military’s centre for the Syrian reconciliation.
A group of 27 militants who surrendered to the Syrian army said they had been trained at the US military base, Rear Adm. Oleg Zhuravlev, the head of the Russian Defence Ministry’s centre for the Syrian reconciliation, said during a briefing on Wednesday.
The US also provided them with weapons and vehicles, he added.
“As a result of the clash, the militants who broke through lost three pickups, 27 people escaped, they are currently under the protection of Syrian government forces in Palmyra. They surrendered dozens of small arms, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, including Western-made ones”, Zhuravlev said.
On the night from 13 to 14 April, a group of militants, who were trained at the US forces’ base in the vicinity of the Rukban camp, tried to get out of At-Tanf area. The militants planned to surrender to government and return to civilian life, Zhuravlev said. On the border of the 55-kilometer security zone, they were attacked by a detachment of the US-backed Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (“Revolutionary Commando Army”) radical group.
“According to the testimony of the members of the illegal armed groups who surrendered to the government, the Americans provided them with pickup vehicles and weapons. US instructors trained them to carry out sabotage at oil and gas and transport infrastructure, as well as organise terrorist acts in the territory controlled by the Syrian government forces”, he said.”