Russian warplanes continue to hammer the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib where Turkey maintains a large force.
Late on September 22, four Russian airstrikes hit the outskirts of the town of Benin in the southern countryside of Idlib. The airstrikes targeted frontline positions of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib, and its allies.
#ادلب الطيران الروسي يشن عدة غارات على حرش بينين شمال معرة النعمان
منذ أشهر لم ينقذ الطيران الروسي غارات في الليل pic.twitter.com/vwm34ySCor
— Obida_qx10 (@qx_obaid1) September 22, 2021
On September 23 morning, a new wave of Russian airstrikes hit greater Idlib. Three of the airstrikes targeted Benin outskirts, while three others targeted the town of Ma’arrat Misrin in the eastern Idlib countryside.
غارات من الطيران الحربي الروسي تستهدف أطراف قرية الهباط بالقرب من مدينة معرتمصرين شمال ادلب وحرش بينين بجبل الزاوية جنوب ادلب pic.twitter.com/DulcaFSEJf
— حسين العلي (@hsenalali000) September 23, 2021
The Russian airstrikes were a response to violations of the ceasefire in Greater Idlib, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey on March 5 of last year.
According to the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria, which is tasked with monitoring the ceasefire in the region, HTS carried out 29 attacks on September 22 alone. No casualties were reported.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to discuss the unstable situation in Greater Idlib with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on September 29. Turkey was recently blamed by Russia for not fulfilling its commitments under the March 5 agreement.
The meeting was scheduled following reports of a near Russian-backed operation led by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) against HTS and its allies in Greater Idlib.
A new report by Bloomberg revealed that Turkey had deployed addition forces in the Syrian region, where its military maintains more than 60 positions, in order to stop any operation by the SAA and its allies.
Recently, Turkey provoked Russia by claiming that the Russian State Duma elections held on the territory of Crimea were “illegitimate”. This may push Moscow to further pressure Ankara over the situation in Greater Idlib.
Damascus also appear to be growing impatient with Turkey’s occupation of northern Syria. In a recent interview with Sputnik, Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad called on Turkey to pull its troops out from Syria and accused Ankara of inciting the recent escalation in Greater Idlib.
While the current escalation in Greater Idlib could develop into a serious military escalation, it is also possible that Russia and Turkey will be able to reach a new, better agreement to stabilize the region.
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