In Syria’s Idlib, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham seems to be consolidating control, with neither the Syrian Arab Army nor its Russian support making any significant progress in recent days. This lack of progress comes down to the fact that they still support the existing ceasefire regime while Turkey has refused to honor its responsibility and clear out radical elements from the region.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is operating with increasing impunity, even as the Biden Administration’s think tanks strive to rebrand them as non-terrorists and cooperate with them in future endeavors. At the same time, the Russian-Turkish patrols in along the separation line in Idlib are taking place, largely without issue, with militants that enjoy Turkish protection that carry out small-scale but regular attacks on the Syrian Army and even on Russian targets.
On February 7th, in Southern Idlib in Kafr Nabi, Al-Qaeda-affiliate Ansar al-Tawhid, a HTS ally, targeted a Syrian and Russian position, claiming to kill 11 as a result. The militants in Idlib appear to be moving outward, with attacks popping up far from their initial positions.
The contact line and the demilitarized zone have been allegedly imposed for a while now, but it is plain to see that it is ineffective to remove the terrorist threat. Moscow continues to put effort toward enforcing the ceasefire agreement, documenting every violation, and responding to most of them.
Again, on February 7th, the Russian forces were also targeted, with two UAVs being downed within 24 hours. One was downed by HTS-affiliated militants in the skies near Idlib, while the other was downed by the SDF, likely following a US order.
The other area that is becoming increasingly volatile is northeastern Syria, with the SDF becoming more and more assertive in their operations.
The SDF continues its activities against ISIS. It launched a revenge operation against the terrorists in Deir Ezzor, over the killing of two officials. At the same time, SDF fights the Turkish forces and the Turkish-backed militants in the area. With the downing of the Russian drone, they appear to be signaling that there will be no cooperation with anybody but the Americans, who have undertaken no movements in recent days.
Terrorists are organizing attacks, and carrying out provocations throughout Syria, and mostly in the southern regions. They pop out of either Idlib, or from the US-controlled areas in northeastern Syria.
Israel has remained static over the last several days, following a large airstrike on reported Iranian positions. The US allies in the face of SDF, however, are causing more than enough trouble for the SAA and Russia.
The HTS is likely also to start more assertive operations against the SAA and Russia. In recent days, the Biden Administration has begun its efforts to rebrand them as a reformed group with no remaining terrorists.
Furthermore, ISIS activity is at a long-time high, and it is likely no coincidence that it began happening as soon as Joe Biden and the Democrats returned to power in Washington.