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There are about 15,000 Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) terrorists in the province of Idlib and Russia is ready to provide the Syrian government with help to eliminate them, Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian presidential envoy for Syria, announced during a press conference on the sidelines of the Astana talks on November 29.
Meanwhile, reports are appearing that radical militants have been amassing forces and deploying missiles as part of the preparation for a confrontation with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the demilitarized zone.
On November 29, there was another notable armed confrontation between the SAA and the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) in northern Hama. NFL units attacked SAA positions near Karnaz but were forced to withdraw under intense artillery fire. The area near the Christian town of Mahardah is also point of constant clashes between the SAA and various militant groups.
The entire concept of the Idlib demilitarized zone has appeared to be flawed. On the one hand, Ankara is preventing the SAA from launching an advance on Idlib to deliver a devastating blow to the terrorists. On the other hand, Turkey and its proxies have done nothing to eliminate al-Qaeda and its allies within the deconfliction area.
From its turn, Syria, Iran and Russia have kept a wait-and-see stance and attempted to propel a settlement of the Idlib issue through the existing military diplomatic channels. The problem of this approach that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and similar groups have used the gained time to regroup and resupply their forces. Now, the terrorists are more capable of countering a possible SAA advance than a few months ago.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue their low-intensity advance on ISIS positions in the Hajin pocket. No progress on the ground has been achieved recently, but the US-led coalition bombed an ISIS prison, where SDF members captured by ISIS were held.
The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq released a video to confirm the incident. A notable number of SDF members was captured by the terrorist group during its large counter-attack against the SDF in early November.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister as well as Defense Minister, Foreign Minister and Health Minister of the “only democracy” in the Middle East, declared that “the best answer to anti-Semitism is the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces”. These remarks were made in response to a CNN poll, which showed that more than 28% of Europeans believe that anti-Jewish sentiments in their countries are mostly fueled by the actions of the Israeli leadership itself.