Over 100 Syrian and Russian airstrikes hit positions, weapon depots and infrastructure belonging to Idlib militant groups during the past few days. According to reports, most of the strikes were delivered in the surroundings of Kafr Nabl, al-Bara, Ehsim, Baluon, Maarzita and Talmenes. An intense aerial campaign against infrastructure and forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other radicals allowed the Syrian Army to stabilize the frontline in southern Idlib and repel militants’ all attempts to advance there.
Deputy Chief of Russia’s General Staff and the head of Russian forces in Syria Lieutenant General Alexander Chaiko has inspected the northeastern ‘safe zone’ area in Syria, according to a video released by Zvezda TV on December 8. The visit took place in the framework of a joint Russian-Turkish patrol along the M4 highway. According to the Zvezda TV report, the patrol inspected the ongoing de-mining efforts in Alia and Tell Tamr, as well as the reconstruction works at the electric substation near the Mabrouka camp for displaced people west of Ras al-Ayn. Another point of the joint patrol and inspection was to confirm the withdrawal of Kurdish armed groups from the area.
Earlier, Lieutenant General Chaiko discussed with the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Kobani, the implementation of the second phase for the ‘safe zone’ agreement. According to Kurdish sources, the second phase will include the deployment of Syrian Border Guard units along the border from Kobani to Semelka. Previously, the SDF and Russia agreed on the deployment of Russian troops in Amuda, Tell Tamir and Ayn Issa.
ISIS keeps a noticeable presence on along the eastern bank of the Euphrates, in the area where US troops are deployed.
On December 7, ISIS members attacked an SDF convoy near the town of Haijn reportedly killing 3 SDF members. In response to the attack, US-led coalition and SDF units raided the village of al-Shheell arresting two men.
On December 6, reports surfaced that unknown gunmen attacked the US-controlled Omar oil fields. The incident coincided with the arrival of US military convoy there. Then, pro-SDF sources said that artillery strikes in the area were just a part of some live fire drills.
During the past months, US and SDF forces conducted over a dozen of anti-ISIS raids across the Euphrates’ eastern bank. Nonetheless, this did not allow them to put an end to the ISIS presence in there.
ISIS cells also active on the western bank of the Euphrates. On December 6, an IED attack targeted a convoy of pro-government militia Liwa al-Quds near al-Mayadin. A single Liwa al-Quds member was killed.
Early on December 8, unidentified warplanes reportedly carried out a new round of strikes on positions of alleged Iranian forces in the al-Bukamal area. Pro-Israeli sources claimed that at least 5 Iranian-backed fighters were killed. This remains unconfirmed.