Syrian, Iranian and Russian forces started a joint military drill, involving heavy military equipment, rocket launchers and warplanes, on October 1, al-Watan newspaper reported on October 2. According to al-Watan, the drills coincided with a series of protests against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria.
Pro-government sources speculate that the military drill is a warning to the US-backed group. During the past few months, several sources claimed that the US-led coalition and the SDF is planning an attack on the Syrian Army on the western bank of the Euphrates.
Russia has successfully tested its advanced S-500 air-defense system in Syria, Russian daily Izvestia reported citing sources in the country’s defense ministry. The report claimed that the tests involved the “most important elements of the S-500.” Izvestia said that the testing allowed to identify “certain problems” that were immediately fixed. A serial production of the S-500 is set to begin in the second half of 2020.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups continued efforts to prevent civilians from leaving the militant-held part of Greater Idlib. In September, the Syrian Army established the Abu al-Duhur corridor in order to facilitate evacuation of civilians from the militant-held area. However, the terrorists blocked their side of the corridor with berms, mines and military posts. The corridor itself was repeatedly shelled.
On October 2, the Turkish military launched several rockets at positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) north of the occupied area of Afrin. According to pro-Turkish sources, the shelling hit the area of Menagh Air Base and the countryside of the city of Tall Rifaat.
According to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, his country is not satisfied with the progress of implementation of the ‘safe zone’ deal with the United States. So, Ankara will have to act on its own. This sets conditions for a further escalation in northern Syria.