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The Secrets of the Idlib Battles

Updated on March 3, 2020
Ankara was offered to reposition itself in a narrow border strip of 8 kilometers
Ankara was offered to reposition itself in a narrow border strip of 8 kilometers

Behind the scenes of the game of fire in northern Syria, a set of triple and bilateral encounters has defined the features of the current battle. The basis for what is going on is Damascus’s decision to move towards the liberation of Idlib, in addition to securing the “Damascus-Aleppo” and “Latakia-Aleppo” roads. This orientation was an essential part of the meetings that included Ismail Qaani and Hikdan Fidan, others that brought together Ali Mamluk and Hikdan Fidan, and a third Russian-Turkish-Iranian. As Damascus seeks to obtain "complete geography" in batches, it will attend the northern equations that are currently on the agenda of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan tomorrow.

The return of Al-Sukhna to the field in the Syrian north in the middle of last January was not only violations of the "armistice agreement" on the Aleppo and Idlib fronts. The rolling fire, which took place a month and a half ago, comes within the framework of a plan by Damascus and its allies, part of which is implementable, and another that seems to be commenting on the Turkish-Russian understandings and its borders. In the first month of the New Year, a meeting was arranged between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a leading delegation of Iranian advisers. In this meeting, Assad was clear in his speech on the final direction of the coming battle: the city of Idlib. This came at the conclusion of confirming the priority of controlling the Damascus-Aleppo (M5) and Lattakia-Aleppo (M4) roads. In spite of the clear Syrian trend, several tripartite (Turkish-Iranian-Russian) and bilateral meetings took place, aimed at avoiding battles and the Syrian state obtaining its goal of "politics". In this context, Al-Akhbar learned that in one of the Russian-Turkish meetings, the Russian military side confirmed that the boundaries of the operation that had begun was to open the two roads (Damascus-Aleppo / Lattakia-Aleppo), provided that the ceasefire would be completed after that. Ankara did not decisively reject the Russian "offer". Rather, it began searching technically for "road management" and for conducting joint patrols with the Russian side on it (this debate is still continuing today).

Fidan - Qani - Owned

About two weeks ago, a meeting took place between the commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Ismail Qakani, and the director of Turkish intelligence, Haqqan Fidan. In this meeting, the Iranian side held Ankara responsible for the explosion of the field, saying that "what is happening is caused by the lack of commitment by the Turkish side to the agreements concluded previously", and stressed that the Syrian side, with Iranian support, will continue the process "until the two roads are opened", stressing that "what is required now is an agreement new". Also during this period, Fidan met the head of the Syrian National Security Office Ali Mamlouk. The atmosphere of the meeting was not far from what happened in the meeting with Qayni: "You did not abide by the agreements, and the direction is for a new equation," said Mamlouk. Thus, the geography that the Syrian army will liberate, which keeps Ankara a narrow border strip, reaches a maximum depth of 8 kilometers, and extends from the town of Atma in the north (connected to the villages of Afrin occupied by Turkey), to the town of Harem and Silqin, to Darkoush Farzour (Zarzour is located 14 km north of the city of Jisr Al-Shughour). But this map was flatly rejected by the Turkish side, and it was also withdrawn from circulation with it, so that the communications centered on the two international routes only.

Assad in an interview with an Iranian military delegation: The next battle destination is Idlib city

After securing the “Damascus-Aleppo” road, by controlling the cities of Ma'arat al-Numan and Saraqib, and the villages on both sides of the road in the southern and western countryside of Aleppo, the Syrian army headed toward "previously not declared", controlling most of the western countryside of Aleppo, and securing the city of Aleppo almost Kamel, and breaking off points of departure close to it to attack it (as happened at the beginning of heating the front in the southern countryside of Idlib in mid-January). After this "smooth" success of the Syrian army and its allies, Ankara began sending negative messages in politics and the field to the Russian and Syrian sides, as it began at that time to introduce major military reinforcements to the militants in public, and began to draw a new line of contact by deploying military points in which Turkish soldiers stationed In the north, you start in Darat Azza, all the way to Taftanaz and the Saraqib area, east of Idlib.

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, did not swallow the control of the Syrian army over this large geography (about 2000 square kilometers) in a relatively short period, at a time when all parties realized that Damascus and its allies were heading to secure the Lattakia-Aleppo road in the next stage, to start control operations later On the southern countryside of Idlib, and seeking to link it with the Al-Ghab Plain in the northern Hama countryside south of the international road (M4). Since then, Ankara has begun to take its weight in the battle, as it has put its special forces in it, alongside the militants of the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Turkestan Islamic Party (the Battle of Neirab, for example). A few days of fighting, then came the heavy blow to its soldiers in the raid on the village of Billion in the southern Idlib countryside, to announce the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers and the wounding of dozens. This strike prompted Ankara to put all its cards in the battle to regain the city of Saraqib, which is the node where the "M5" and "M4" roads intersect. On the other hand, Moscow was trying to preserve the previous gains of the Syrian side without cutting off contacts and agreements with Ankara. As for Tehran and Beirut, their message to Damascus was that "the road will be opened no matter what it costs," and that they are on its side. On the night after the strike that led to the death of dozens of fighters from the Syrian army and the "allies of Damascus", when the palm came back to tend in the interest of Turkey, amid a Russian retreat from interfering in the air, new reinforcements were sent to that front to be liberated in a battle that did not last more than 24 hours.

Today, the danger has been relatively isolated from Damascus - Aleppo (M5), while Al Ain is again on the Lattakia - Aleppo (M4) road. So, the Turkish returned and sent the joint patrol proposal, specifying its locations between Jisr al-Shughour and Saraqib (part of M4), and between Maarat al-Numan and Saraqib (part of M5). But the last proposal was rejected, while the first was not answered, "The fact that M4 is not yet released." As for the real answer, it may be suspended pending the meeting of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow tomorrow, when new maps can be drawn. However, what the Syrian field has shown over the years of the war, especially in the northern region, is that all maps have a certain shelf life.


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