The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has deployed additional forces around the opposition-held governorate of Idlib, the Russian Sputnik news network reported on January 27 citing a Syrian military source.
“The troops, which arrived in the area and began to deploy, are tasked with reinforcing the frontlines,” Sputnik quoted the source as saying.
Syrian pro-government sources confirmed Sputnik’s report and said that many battle tanks, armored vehicles, artillery pieces and other heavy weapons were deployed south of Idlib in the last 24 hours.
During the last few weeks, radical militants launched several attacks on the SAA’s positions around Idlib in a clear violation of the Russian-Turkish demilitarized zone agreement. Under the agreement, that was reached last year, radical militants are not allowed to be present in a 15-20km zone around Idlib.
Russia and Turkey agreed to work on additional measures to implement the demilitarized zone agreement earlier this week. However, the violations continued.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said on January 27 that the agreement with Turkey has not been fully implemented. This led to concerns in Moscow and Damascus, according to the Russian official.
It remains unclear, if Moscow and Damascus are now ready to launch a limited military operation around Idlib. In the last few months, the SAA mobilized its forces around the northern governorate several times. However, no action was taken.