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The war in Syria continues to heat up with no signs of anything near de-escalation. As of February 17, a number of military and security developments were reported in different parts of the country, including in the capital, Damascus.
On February 15, a bus carrying soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was targeted with an improvised explosive device (IED) when it was passing through the city center of Damascus. The attack claimed the life of a service member and wounded eleven others.
Syrian authorities are currently investigating the attack. Previous attacks in Damascus were linked to terrorist groups based in the northwestern region of Greater Idlib, namely the al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Horas al-Din.
A day after the bombing in Damascus, the SAA destroyed a fuel storage and processing facility located near the town of Termanin in the northeastern part of Greater Idlib. Four of the facility workers and guards were killed and three others were wounded.
The army’s artillery targeted the facility with several Russian-made 2K25 Krasnopol laser-guided artillery rounds.
The facility was run by the Watad Petroleum Company, which is owned by HTS. Watad maintains a monopoly over the fuel market in Greater Idlib. The company deals in oil illegally produced from fields controlled by Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria as well as fuel and gas smuggled from Turkey.
The attack on the facility was either a response to recent ceasefire violations in Greater Idlib, or a response to the bus bombing in Damascus.
In Syria’s northern region, the situation was not any better. Turkish forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to exchange fire.
On February 15, a salvo of rockets launched from areas held by the SDF targeted the Turkish-occupied town of Azaz in the northern Aleppo countryside. The rocket attack claimed the lives of three people and wounded seven others.
The Turkish military and its proxies responded on the same day by shelling several towns and villages jointly held by the SDF and the SAA in the northern Aleppo countryside. Eight people, including two children and two Syrian soldiers, were reportedly wounded in the shelling.
The situation in the northern Aleppo countryside will likely escalate further in the upcoming few days. The SDF and the SAA will likely respond to the Turkish shelling.
Meanwhile, in Syria’s central region, the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) continue to inflict heave losses on ISIS cells.
On February 16, a series of Russian airstrikes hit hideouts of the terrorist group in the Hama-Aleppo-Raqqa triangle, around al-Bishri mountain on the administrative border between Raqqa and Deir Ezzor and in the eastern countryside of Homs. The airstrikes killed six terrorists and wounded at least 11 others.
The pressure mounted by the VKS and SAA have recently forced ISIS cells in the region to slow down their movements and halt much of their operations.
In Syria’s southern region, unrest continues. Three attacks were recently reported in Daraa.
On February 15, Wassim Mohamad al-Hamad, an opposition activist, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in the town of Eastern Ghariyah in the eastern countryside of Daraa.
On the same day, the dead body of Uday al-Qadiri, a former member of an ISIS’ branch in Daraa, was found near the town of Adawan in the western Daraa countryside. Al-Qadiri was abducted by unidentified gunmen who executed him with a bullet to the head.
On February 16, Basel Abu Jaafar, head of the military intelligence detachment in the town of al-Shajara in the western Daraa countryside, survived an assassination attempt with an IED.
Overall, the war in Syria will likely continue to heat up. Soon, we may see a serious confrontation in the country’s northwestern or northern region.