Original by Ilya Novitskiy published by Politikus.ru; translation by J.Hawk
The ultimate defeat of terrorists in Syria’s north-west is inexorably approaching. Latakia province governor Ibrahim Hodr as-Salem believes that it’s difficult to overestimate Russian airpower’s contribution. Effective air support facilitated the government forces’ significant successes when the terrorists had a sizable numerical advantage in most sectors. Government successes are an encouragement and inspiration to Syrian citizens who are joining volunteer units. This is exactly the opposite of what happened four years ago when the fighting began, when the active part of the population supported the opposition. But now nobody in Syria doubts Assad will triumph in the end.
The unfolding operations remind one of 1944, when the former allies of Nazi Germany declared war on the Axis powers, one after another. Volunteer units are formed on a territorial basis. They will protect liberated cities against raids and sabotage, in other words act as police forces. They will also form army reserve units that could be used to support regular forces in crucial sectors. The volunteers retain their jobs and receive half of a soldier’s salary each, moreover the volunteers’ families are regularly supplied with food and provided benefits by the government of Syria. This policy adds an economic incentive to the sense of patriotism and feelings of hatred toward the terrorists, in order to motivate them to join Assad’s forces. On the terrorist side, money flows have greatly weakened, therefore the Islamists cannot count on new recruits. Rather the opposite–the less radical formations are losing fighters who have opted to join government forces instead. In Aleppo, Syrian forces have already severed the main arms and reinforcements supply channels from Turkish territory. Aleppo province saw the end of the four-year siege of Nubel and az-Zakhra, where some 70 thousand were blockaded by the terrorists.
The Aleppo operation has now entered its deciding phase, whose objective is to take control of the entire length of border with Turkey. The West expected Syrian government forces to become bogged down in Latakia at least until April, when the change in weather would impose an operational pause. This area is vital to ensure continued supply of reinforcements and munitions by Turkey, which is why its control is a matter of life and death for the Islamists. Fighting in Latakia and Aleppo is tying down significant Syrian forces which otherwise could be used to annihilate the demoralized militants in Idlib province. But now, as it to spite the West, the terrorists are on the brink of complete defeat in Syria’s north-west. The victory will free sizable forces that could next be used to defeat Idlib province militants. That defeat, in turn, will destroy the terrorist front leaving the militants no choice but to flee to Turkey. Erdogan is no doubt breaking out in cold sweat, knowing that his terrorist chickens are about to come home to roost.