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August was a busy month for both the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) in the north and south of the country.
August 29th marked the 10th day in a row that VKS carried out a series of airstrikes on the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.
August 31st is when the latest airstrikes took place. The VKS carried out an airstrike near the village of al-Iskan in Aleppo governorate, located on the border of the Idlib de-escalation zone and the zone of the Turkish operation “Olive Branch”.
Russian warplanes reportedly targeted the headquarters of the Failak al-Sham faction. The group is used for the financing of the majority of pro-Turkish militants in Syria.
No casualties were reported. However, the strike on targets within the territory of Turkish operation may provoke another escalation.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Russian warplanes have carried out more than 80 airstrikes on Greater Idlib since the beginning of August.
Most of the airstrikes hit positions in the southern Idlib countryside, while the rest targeted the northern Lattakia and the northwestern Hama.
Clearly, this increased activity is warranted, as ceasefire violations continue on a daily basis.
The threat of terrorist attacks by ISIS is high, as the group continues its attempts to push outwards from central Syria.
On August 30th, two members of the Syrian Internal Security forces were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in the city of Hama in central Syria. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.
ISIS cells remain active in central Syria. Hundreds of terrorists have been taking shelter in the desert area, which lays between eastern Homs and western Deir Ezzor. On August 29th, Russian warplanes hit ISIS hideouts near the village of Rasafan.
Meanwhile, in the southern city of Daraa, the former rebels are still holed up in Daraa al-Balad, in a standoff with the SAA.
The Army’s elite 4th Division targeted Daraa al-Balad with battle tanks, heavy machine guns and dozens of improvised rocket-assisted munitions in what appears to be an attempt to subdue the gunmen and force them to leave the area.
This increase in military pressure followed an incident in which a Syrian policeman was killed and two others were wounded when Daraa al-Balad gunmen shelled the bus station in the northern part of Daraa city on August 29th.
On the previous day, two children were killed while their mother and three siblings were wounded when a mortar attack targeted their house in the pro-government town of Qarfa in the northern Daraa countryside.
More than 50 gunmen left Daraa al-Balad in two batches on August 25 and 26 under an agreement between the area’s local leaders and Syrian authorities. Russian forces oversaw the evacuation process.
More than half of the gunmen are still fortified in the area, and are refusing to leave.
The central negotiation committees in Daraa countryside threatened Syrian authorities with a “war” if the SAA didn’t end its operations in Daraa al-Balad.
These threats will not likely stop the SAA, which may escalate its operations in Daraa al-Balad even further in the upcoming few days. The army could launch a ground attack on the area to put an end to the crisis.