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Fall Of Saraqib: Syrian Army Retreats Under Turkish Strikes In Eastern Idlib

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Fall Of Saraqib: Syrian Army Retreats Under Turkish Strikes In Eastern Idlib

Members of al-Qaeda-linked groups embedded with Turkish troops have reentered the town of Saraqib in eastern Idlib following the collapse of the Syrian Army defense northwest of the town.

The attack was backed by Turkish artillery strikes on positions of the Syrian Army. Al-Qaeda members were actively using Turkish-supplied armoured vehicles and even MANPADs.

Since the evening of February 26, government troops have lost the villages of Salihiya and Afis and been forced to retreat towards the eastern and southern vicinities of Saraqib. Turkish forces reportedly captured three battle tanks, including a Russian-supplied T-90, in the course of the attack. Several other military vehicles were destroyed. Earlier, Syrian troops withdrew from Nayrab leaving behind 2 battle tanks, 4 amoured vehicles and 2 bulldozers as well as other weapons and equipment.

The Turkish Defense Ministry reported on February 26 that 2 Turkish soldiers were killed and 2 others injured in a Syrian airstrike. This became another official confirmation of the participation of Turkish troops in the fighting.

The fall of Saraqib is a major blow to the plans of the Damascus government to reopen the M5 highway and to threaten Idlib city with a possible offensive operation.

Local sources name the Syrian Army overcommitment to the advance south of the M4 highway as one of the causes  of the recent setbacks in Saraqib. According to them, a large number of trained and experienced units, including the 25th Special Forces Division and the 4th Division, were redeployed from Saraqib to southern Idlib. Other issues are the lack of coordination among pro-government units and close-air-support.

According to pro-government sources, on the morning of February 27 army troops regrouped and launched a counter-attack. Clashes are ongoing.

The setbacks of government forces in Saraqib came amid the ongoing army advance in the southern part of the Idlib zone. Syrian troops have cleared another dozen villages of militants and reached the administrative border with the province of Hama. Now, the militant strongholds of Sahn and Barah are the two main obstacles in the way of the Syrian Army towards the M4 highway.

However, if government forces are not able to stabilize the frontline in the area of Saraqib and put an end to advances by Turkish-led forces, the gains in southern Idlib may not be enough to achieve a strategic victory over al-Qaeda in Idlib.

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  • Rüdiger Preiss

    Praying for the brave SAA and Russian air support

    • gustavo

      Russia does not want to touch Turkey. Putin is pleasing Erdogan.

      • Rüdiger Preiss

        So does Syria. Putin is not “pleasing” Erdogan – he can’t just declare war, please think for a moment before you spout nonsense. The Russians support Syria where they can with air strikes and intelligence etc, but obviously they only can go as far as this is directed against jihadists.

        • Ma_Laoshi

          Always a sign that people have been successfully intimidated when they adopt the framing of their enemies. If these Turkish columns had been taken out the moment they crossed the Idlib border it wouldn’t have been Russia declaring war on Turkey–because Idlib is not Turkey, duh. It’d just have been Turkey declaring war on Syria, and failing miserably.

          The game changes of course if you acquiesce to Erdogan’s view that Idlib in fact is Turkey, or at least should be. Russia is still well behind the West in understanding that these battles are also over ideas and words, so it matters hugely how you tell your story.

          • Astrid Watanabe

            “….Russia is still behind the West in Understanding…..”
            I often learn from your comments, but here I like to add that if Putin is “intimidated” I don’t think that is because he is well behind the West in understanding anything. The situation itself is complex and intimidating, and he is walking a fine line. It is the US that is the expert on twisting and distorting the facts to serve their purpose. Putin cannot compete with that. He does what he can. Over-all the Russians are still more grounded than the Americans, where politics and ‘News’ are based on lies.

  • Red Pilled ThoughtCrimes

    clashes ongoing, SAA have counter attacked, i wouldnt give the turkish terrorists much hope of holding their gains

  • Antonius

    roast the turkeys!

  • Josiah Isaboke

    As long as Russia and Turkey are playing bosom buddies this is going to be a long endless journey for the Syrian army. Russia and Turkey are at war and that should be established and well noted. Secondly, The SAA must be fighting with low morale or the new recruits have no idea what they are doing…Word is the Jihadis have captured a General which is a sad thing owing to the fact that he will reveal all the plans as he is being tortured to death. How do you lose towns that you fought so hard for and people died for? The SAA war plan is just a little confusing now because to get back the M-5 this tome won’t be a walk in the park. It’s all looking amateurish

    • nixsagend

      Wenn die SAA allerdings die M4 befreit, dann stehen die Terroristen in Saraqib allerdings dumm da, weil sie dann fast eingekesselt sind.

      • Hyperbellum

        English, please:)
        Translation:
        “However, if the SAA liberates the M4, the terrorists in Saraqib are stupid because they are almost encircled.”

    • David Price

      No one knows what the Syrian Army was hit with in Saraqib its possible it was a tactical withdrawal to allow the Air power to soften up the vermin before the restart of the SAA offensive on the town which began again today

      • Tim Williams
      • Informbiro

        Another “tactical retreat” guy.Why did they then leave tanks,armored vehicles,konkurses and weapons to arm a fucking brigade with?

        • nevdane

          The claim of the lost equipment sounds like a turkish claim as well as the 150 Syrian soldiers lost as reported by Turkey. Erdogan needs to appease the AK party.

      • Kananda

        BS. you never were a soldier, were you?

      • gustavo

        NOt way my friend, just remember Palmyra. There is not at all tactical here, just stupidity.

        • Rüdiger Preiss

          Palmyra was a very different story. There’s only desert around and they didn’t expect ISIS to be moving freely under US watch from Iraq and Al Bukamal / Deir Ezzor over hundreds of kilometers

        • Hishamsbr

          Are you a military strategist ? I didn’t think so. Moron. Go back to your video games and porn

  • Tim Williams
  • Tim Williams

    This is the rats last major offensive … not really much different to the NAZI’S and the Battle of the
    Bulge in WW 2

    • FlorianGeyer

      I hope you are correct.
      Ths big issue of course is what Erdogan is hoping to achieve. Does he even know from day to day?

      • Tim Williams

        his goal is to see the next sunrise

    • Rüdiger Preiss

      To compare any of these battles with WW2 or WW1 is totally pointless. Next you’ll compare this to some battles between Vikings and Anglo-Saxons ??!

  • Xoli Xoli

    If you leave snake a your room alive it will bite you forsure.

  • Jozef Mak

    several Kalibers against the command centers are needed.

  • Tim Williams

    Seizing of the M 4 highway to the West underway

    https://twitter.com/RojavaNetwork/status/1233075855032815617

    • Kananda

      fuck yourself with your stupid twitter! american neocon shit site!

      where are your big vitories you refered in 358 comments in last days?!?!?!

  • gustavo

    Without shooting down and destroying Turkey artillery, I see not way SAA can do something serious. Yes, it is very bad thing that Russia does not want to destroy Turkey artillery…..very bad.

    • Tim Williams

      it’s being taken out

      • Willing Conscience (The Truths

        No it’s mostly only the Turkish supplied crap that’s being taken out [and replaced as fast as it’s destroyed] the Turkish owned and operated stuff is only being hit on the odd occasion.

  • Tim Williams
  • GuyQ

    These gains will be short lived. We saw these gains during the Aleppo’s libration.

  • JerryDrake

    Time is precious. SAA push north toward M4 and Idlib city and if they push fast enough Turkey and Co. will have to reallocate good part of its forces to prevent the SAA from penetrating further, and thus the eastward offensive will lose its force – which was basically the SAA plan as the SAA launched its offensive in the midst of Turkey’s offensive toward Saraqib. Turkey can not advance south because there are SAA units in full swing, east and north of Saraqib all they conquer does not have much operational significance because they need too much manpower to hold territory and because the best SA units will soon be at the southern gate of Idlib city.
    This is good bargain for SAA. From 2014 Khanasir front until this south Idlib advance, front line on north-south axis was more or less of same length (2014 Aleppo – Khanasir until 2020 Aleppo – Khan Shaykhun). Defence line was shortened on east-west axis (Khanasir – Khan Shaykhun).
    With this operation in the south of Idlib and exit on the M4 (Jisr al Shugur – Saraqib), the SAA will shorten the line of defense for 100 km in just week or two!
    Saraqib is of crucial importance for terrorists but SAA can live without that city, they worked years to liberate this city so they can wait few days, weeks or even months for final conclusion.
    After all, we have to admit that Turkey and Co. are on the offensive and we cannot expect their attack to be bounced off the defense line as a wave to the coast.

    • Willing Conscience (The Truths

      The elite forces that just took Saraqib a few days ago and have been fighting over it ever since haven’t moved at all, they haven’t had time to, so they’re still there, but sadly they’re no longer in control of the town.

      • JerryDrake

        Are you talking about the SAA’s elite forces? Sarakib was liberated a few weeks ago and there was plenty of time for the elite forces to move on and leave the city’s defenses to less experienced units.

        • Willing Conscience (The Truths

          The bulk of the 50,000 strong 25th and 4th division may have moved north along the highway but the fighting around Nayrab and Saraqib hasn’t stopped since the SAA took the town on the 6th of this month.
          On the 8th the rebels announced they would increase attacks on the SAA at Nayrab which is just 6 km to the west of Saraqib. The SAA was fighting to take back the M5 and were only about 6 km north of Saraqib.
          On the 10th the SAA were still fighting just 10 km north of Saraqib.
          On the 11th the SAA move up the highway and cross into the Aleppo governorate just 12 km north of Saraqib, they also attack a Turkish convoy going to Nayrab, the rebels then recaptured parts of Nayrab and shoot down a Syrian chopper.
          On the 12th the SAA finally retook all the M5 and were 30 km north of Saraqib but they were also fighting around Al Arada in Aleppo which is only 20 km north of Saraqib, they also recaptured the lost areas of Nayrab [and I don’t think they used garrison forces for that].
          On the 16th they captured Maaran an Nasan in Idlib which is just 15 km north of Saraqib.
          So between the 16th and the 19th are the only dates that you can really say there was no confirmed 25th or 4th division presence anywhere near Saraqib doing any fighting.
          But on the 20th The Turks launch an assault against Nayrab and Saraqib which resulted in the capture of both towns by the 27th, and the same day the SAA began sending in reinforcements to help secure the M4.
          I’m going to include this comment of mine today to help explain my assertions, it starts with an excerpt from an article on SF today the 29th.

          “By the start of the week, the Syrian Army had halted offensive actions east of Idlib city and redeployed most of its well-trained and motivated units from there to the southern part of the province. Troops and equipment of the 25th Special Forces Division and the 4th Armoured Division joined a ground operation to cut off the front salient south of the M4 highway. This weakened the army defense near Saraqib and Turkish-led forces immediately exploited this.”

          6th, – SAA 25th division capture Saraqib.

          7th to 19th, – 25th division and 4th division begin to secure all the M5 highway from Saraqib to Aleppo.

          15th to 18th, – maps show the 4th and 25th division still fighting in Aleppo governorate to retake the highway, and also shows that the bulk of their forces were still in Aleppo

          19th, – maps still show elements of the SAA still fighting in Aleppo governorate, and it also shows SAA 5th corps reinforcements heading towards Saraqib.

          20th, – Rebels announce the start of operations to recover Nayrab and Saraqib, Turkey mobilizes its own forces to assist and send in tanks men and equipment, the Turks also start an artillery and ground assault against Nayrab and Saraqib, they also shoot down 2 SAAF drones.

          22nd, – the rebels try to shoot down a Russian plane near Saraqib.

          22nd, – the 5th Corps sent to southern Idlib to supposedly start operations to secure all of southern Idlib.

          23rd, – the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a new ground offensive in the southern countryside of Idlib.
          The army’s elite 25th Special Forces Division is reportedly leading the offensive. The 4th Division and the 5th Corps are also participating. It begins with an aerial assault on the 23rd and the ground operations start on the 24th. By the 28th all of southern Idlib has been liberated in its entirety, less than 4 days to secure all of southern Idlib, what a display of military might it was, 3 or 4 shots fired, a few airstrikes, some very fast mobilization by the army, and Bob’s your uncle, we liberated all the south in just 3.5 days, LOL, yeah sure we did.

          26th, – The Turks and terrorists recapture Nayrab.

          27th, – The Turks and terrorists recapture Saraqib.

          So between the 20th and the 23rd the SAA’s 4th division [the bulk of a 25,000 man force], the 25th division [the bulk of a 25,000 man force] and 5th army corps [the bulk of a 15,000 man force], [possibly 40,000+ in total] had all redeployed to southern Idlib from Aleppo where they were, they bypassed the new Turkish offensive against Nayrab and Saraqib [a vitally important highway junction of immense strategic importance] on the way down from Aleppo, avoiding any participation in the ongoing Turkish assault that was hammering the 2 towns, and then started a new campaign just south of Maarrat al Nu’man, and just 3 days later they’d secured all of the southern territory completely.
          Ask yourself, does that sound right, does it make sense, do all the numbers add up, they don’t for me.
          There were no terrorists left in southern Idlib, they’d all gone north to consolidate with the newly arrived Turkish forces, the SAA just quickly moved into the vacant areas they left, in fact there was very little ground combat, it was mostly just aerial assaults that followed the retreating Jihadists north.
          But more importantly, why did the SAA bypass Saraqib and Nayrab on the way down from Aleppo, they must’ve used the highway on the way down, which means they were just 2 or 3 km away from where the Turks were launching the new assault against Nayrab and Saraqib [which they told us they were going to do on the 20th], why did the SAA’s 4th and 25th division and the 5th army corps bypass the new Turkish assault just 3 km away from the highway they used to travel down to Maarrat al Nu’man?
          The 19th is earliest date possible for the start of the SAA redeployment from the northern Aleppo highway, so between the 19th and the 23rd, 4 days, all of the forces had redeployed to southern Idlib ready to start a new campaign.
          Ask yourself this, why would the SAA ignore the new Turkish assault against Nayrab and Saraqib that started on the 20th, when the SAA were losing so badly there [outmanned and outgunned], and they just keep sending their troops to southern Idlib bypassing the fighting ay Nayrab, anyone would think they’d postpone the southern assault and reinforce the units they had protecting Naytab and Saraqib.
          Something’s not right with this statement,

          ” This weakened the army defense near Saraqib and Turkish-led forces immediately exploited this.”

          They just had 40,000+ SAA file past just 3 km away from this vital and strategically important battlefront, what do they mean the Turks exploited this, the Turks started their offensive on the 20th, that’s only one day after the earliest possible date the SAA started to redeploy, so the SAA had 3 or 4 days to divert some of those forces as they travelled through Saraqib to Maarrat al Nu’man, it’s just 3 km to the battlefront from Saraqib, surely the SAA should’ve sent some of their transiting forces to reinforce the troops protecting Nayrab and Saraqib, 5 to 10,000 at least, but no they ignored the new Turkish assault and just went to Maarrat al Nu’man instead, LOL, yeah and pigs can fly too.

          Do you really believe this SF article, I can’t, it’s a terrible piece of propaganda designed to minimise the gravity of the situation, if anything the truth is we pulled our troops away from the battlefront to avoid even bigger losses, that’s the only thing that makes any sense at all, the above story is nothing but offensive to anyone that has any knowledge of the facts and cares to analyse them objectively.

          • JerryDrake

            This way of thinking you can use for both sides.
            For example:
            The terrorists withdrew almost all of their forces from southern Idlib to launch an offensive, with a debatable success, practically giving SAA 1500km2 of territory and allowing SAA to come without a fight, several kilometers from the M4 and the southern approach to Idlib city!
            It is doubtful to you that the SAA risked the loss of one city for the entire area south of the M4, and it is not doubtful to you that the terrorists renounced a very good buffer zone south of Idlib city in exchange for one city whose loss had virtually no effect on the functioning of the SAA.
            SAA must now bypass Saraqib and, in your estimation, how much better is the connection between Latakia and Idlib now than before the offensive?
            To what extent Idlib is now threatened from the south in relation to the pre-offensive situation?
            How important for the terrorists is M4 that SAA can cut at any moment?
            Terrorists now have to think about defending Idlib city on two sides – south and east. On both sides they have a buffer zone of 20 km and before the offensive they had 10 km east and 80 south. The changing situation on the battlefield is definitely in favor of SAA and I see no reason why they would be lying about it. I see the current lull as a break necessary for shifting units from 100km of defused defense line toward front line and preparing for further advance.

          • Willing Conscience (The Truths

            The terrorists withdrew to avoid massive casualties, why try to defend hard to defend low value territory that you know you’ll probably lose, it’s far better to retreat to a more defensible location that also has the cavalry meeting you there.
            We’ll all find out the truth in the next dew days, lets see how it pans out, I say we’re totally stuffed and you say it’s a good sign and things are ok, we’ll see what happens and find out.

          • JerryDrake

            I agree with you, we’ll see. Only, one thing, you do not leave a very good defensive line on the mountain to build a new defensive line in the middle of the meadow, at the gate of your most important stronghold. Sarakqib makes sense if the line of defense goes from this city to the mountains to the south, not west to the plains and the city of Idlib.

  • Boxman

    This is just the beginning. Without Russia, the SAA cannot hold. They’re good but not that good.

  • cliff

    The 25 special division need to be dispatched back to help recapture the lost town with the force they have been prepare for the counter attack and the 4th divison need to stay in southern iblib and they must reinforce with a another divison. And a third division must be assemble and be ready to be be dispatch toward which ever region need it the most.. At the same time 2 or 3 more division should be assemble to open a new front… this should be done ASAP…That’s what i would’ve done ..

  • Ronald

    This is very strange as RT is claiming Saraqib is still SAA controlled, and al Masadra News claiming SAA has convoys entering it.
    Was it just a con to bring out the jihadis ?

  • Xanatos

    Target: idlib
    Then encircle forces in saraqib.

    • Tom Tom

      Yep!

  • MH370

    Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!

  • Rodney Loder

    The thing is I am the Messiah and so able to discern the difference between what will be successful and what will not, as everyone on Southfront very well knows Allah has a strong intention, but Fate awaits at gateway only I can unlock the door.

  • Willing Conscience (The Truths

    What a load of BS, this statement is a bold lie which is easily debunked,

    “Local sources name the Syrian Army overcommitment to the advance south of the M4 highway as one of the causes of the recent setbacks in Saraqib. According to them, a large number of trained and experienced units, including the 25th Special Forces Division and the 4th Division, were redeployed from Saraqib to southern Idlib.”

    We just took all of southern Idlib in less than 3 days, a true cakewalk for the SAA and a wondrous achievement. I’ve been predicting on these forums that it would take no more than 4 days to achieve, but I was wrong, it took even less time, and I don’t mind being wrong at all :], I like being wrong sometimes :]
    But we couldn’t have done it if there were even a hint of opposition left here to fight us, and we haven’t been fighting anyone in southern Idlib as SF claims, just chasing retreating Jihadists, and they’re all heading north to the new fortified Turkish battle lines to consolidate, even the madmen on the mountain range left without a fight, I didn’t think they would, I thought we’d have to carpet bomb them to get rid of them, I was wrong again :].
    And I also said that despite it being easy for us to take the south, it would be completely impossible to head north and do the same thing there, I actually said it would be like hitting a brick wall, today I see the brick wall has hit us instead.
    Arab League peacekeepers now Assad, they are the ONLY thing that can save you and Syria, nothing else can do the job, swallow your pride and ask for them, save at least most of the governorate if you still can.
    The only other group in the world that comes close to hating the Turks [and by default the Muslim Brotherhood] as much as the Kurds do are the Arab league [AL] nations, well most of them, the Russians may not be able to stop the Turks attacking the SAA, but AL peacekeepers will, they’ll kill Turks and NATO and the US won’t be able to do a thing to help them, no financial aid for Turkey to kill AL peacekeepers, no military support either, absolutely no diplomatic support, and best of all, heaps of Saudi money to pay for the peacekeepers paychecks and equipment, Assad just has to shake the mutilators hands. Both Putin and Trump still do, so Assad should just quickly disinfect afterwards so he doesn’t catch anything, and hopefully he doesn’t smile with him on camera, both Trump and Putin found out it’s not a good look.
    I keep telling everyone some simple truths to make things easier to understand, Erdogan’s bet all his life savings on a gamble he can’t afford to lose, if he does lose he will definitely lose political power, probably go to jail for the rest of his life. and maybe even be murdered or executed, Turkey doesn’t have the death penalty but they could change that for extenuating circumstances, Erdogan could hang in Turkey.
    And this is the last and final simple truth, Russia won’t start WW3 to save Assad, but Erdogan will start WW3 to save himself, he’s insane and has nothing to lose.
    The AL peacekeepers serve 2 purposes for Assad, 1 they stop the Turks, and 2 they stop the US [and by default NATO too], so why am I called a troll for suggesting this, God only knows.
    God help Syria, Erdogan’s deadline ends tomorrow, what we’ve had so far is just a taste of what’s to come, tomorrow or the day after we all find out what that mad bastard has in store for the poor mistreated people in Idlib, and the SAA, and Assad, and Russia.

  • Boxman

    Turkey is at war with Russia, but Russia is not at war with Turkey. This is unsustainable.

  • cechas vodobenikov

    turk duplicity aside, there is no controversy regarding who controls Syrian airspace—I doubt that turks will risk complete defeat…recent statements by Lavrov and Peskov—a fluent turk speaker, demonstrate that the turk lies have been entirely dismissed—turk humiliation is self created

  • omega insane

    All good, lengthen the radius of the cauldron a bit, strengthen its circumference. Once opposing forces reach their peak offensive, begin ”closing the circle” again. Slow your advances a bit. Once you retake an area, solidify it 1st b4 you advance again.
    Godspeed, EL Elyon be with all who stand for righteousness and true justice.

  • Alex Aubrez

    Erdogan may hope he has some look-alikes, like Saddham Hussein had, to replace him in public places. Because now that he irritated the US by buying Russian air defense, he said he will open the refugee floodgates to Europe again and he is provoking Russia, many may want him gone. He has become a pain in the ass for all.

  • Antikapitalista

    Why Russia does not supply Syria with some of its weapons for, say, live testing against NATO hardware without any risk of repercussions?

    Although the real solution would be a nuclear sharing agreement, like the one between the U.S.A. and its Western European minions.