The Final Push for Idlib Will Come Soon

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Written by Federico Pieraccini; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

The situation in Syria is that of a frozen conflict, following the agreements made between Russia, Turkey and Syria on the demilitarized zone created around Idlib. Except for some sporadic terrorist attacks, the truce seems to be holding up over the last few weeks, even though it has become clear to everyone what the next step is for the province.

The Final Push for Idlib Will Come Soon

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been busy eradicating Daesh in the southern part of Syria in recent weeks, concentrating its efforts on securing all areas that have been liberated from terrorist control but which still remain vulnerable to sporadic attacks, as occurred in Sweida at the end of July 2018. In that incident, there were dozens of victims and numerous abductees who remained in the hands of Daesh for months. This caused the Syrian population in neighbouring areas to clamor for protection, forcing the SAA to undertake an anti-terrorist campaign that has been ongoing since August.

This effort by the SAA has slowed down in part due to subsequent events, with an agreement reached between Erdogan and Putin to create a demilitarized zone in the province of Idlib. From October 15, an area spanning 20 kilometres and guarded by Turkish and Russian troops guarantees a separation between the SAA and terrorist groups in the province.

Russian and Syrian efforts have been moving in two very specific directions over the last few weeks. While Moscow supplies Damascus with new equipment in preparation for the future advance on Idlib, Putin and his entourage continue diplomatic efforts to draw more of Syria’s enemies closer to the Russia-Iran-Syria axis. The meeting that brought about the demilitarized zone included Macron and Merkel, the Europeans having evidently come to terms with the impossibility of overthrowing the legitimate government of Syria. Macron and Merkel were offered a way out of the Syrian conflict, decoupling themselves from the belligerent stance of the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The intention is to usher Paris and Berlin towards the same direction Qatar, Turkey and Jordan have been progressively gravitating. Certainly, these are not countries to be considered friends of Damascus. Rather, they are parties with whom a constructive dialogue needs to be entered into in order to advance common diplomatic interests.

Moscow has often found it possible to reach an agreement or start unpublicized negotiations with each of these parties. Erdogan seems to have preferred an agreement with Putin rather than waiting for the liberation of Idlib by the SAA, thus being able to postpone the natural conclusion of the war that will find him sitting at the table defeated. At the same time, Erdogan wants to concentrate on the Kurds in order to secure the border between Syria and Turkey controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and to prevent any partition of Syrian territory that would favor other parties. Jordan has even reopened the border crossings with Syria, appearing to be the first country in opposition to Damascus that is now taking practical steps to mend fences.

The case of the participation of the two European countries at the summit with Erdogan and Putin is more complex. The rift between Washington and the other European capitals is wide and well documented, even more so after the events in Paris commemorating the end of the First World War. Macron and Trump seem to be diverging further in terms of policy and ideology, while Trump and Merkel have always had their differences. Trump’s choices in the Middle East, in the wake of the destructive actions of Israel and Saudi Arabia, marked a profound point of difference and mistrust with the European allies. Macron and Merkel have a huge problem dealing with refugees flowing from areas in North Africa and the Middle East destroyed by US-led wars. The prospect of working with Erdogan, and indirectly with Damascus, to bring back hundreds of thousands of refugees currently in France and especially Germany, seems to have been Putin’s winning argument during the talks in Istanbul.

This slow diplomatic approach has been accelerated as a result of Israel’s downing of a Russian electronic-surveillance aircraft. The need to avoid a direct conflict between Moscow and Tel Aviv allowed the Russian missile forces to deploy to Syria an advanced model of the S-300 in addition to the existing S-300/400 systems on the ground. The presence of these advanced systems, and Moscow’s threats to use them, together with American concerns over the possibility of an F-35 being shot down by Soviet systems dating from the 1970s, forced the Zionist entity to halt its attacks on Syria.

This situation has helped to create a frozen conflict in the country. Together with the agreement of Idlib, this gives the SAA plenty of time to rest, regroup, and receive supplies needed for future campaigns.

The current truce is a strategic pause that has all the appearance of what has happened in the past in the provinces of Homs and Aleppo. The need to free Idlib from terrorists goes hand in hand with the promise of Assad and the government of Damascus to liberate every inch of Syria from terrorists. The diplomatic efforts of Moscow serve to prepare the ground for what will happen in the coming months, with the SAA set to advance on Idlib. In this sense, the deployment of advanced systems in Syria serves as a deterrent against possible responses from countries like Israel and the United States, anxious to defend their jihadists, but continuing to have minimal influence on the ground.

Russia and Syria’s moves therefore seem to be in preparation for the battle for Idlib, to be the longest and most difficult yet. The liberation of the province is inevitable but requires all the necessary political, diplomatic and military preparation in order to ensure success and limit potential escalation. As is often the case, Moscow and her allies approach complex issues with simple and pragmatic solutions, even offering exit strategies to their (geo)political opponents, which contrasts with their demonstrated tendency to rush heedlessly towards war.

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  • Hasbara Hunter

    Diplomacy sometimes works Great…. Hey U.S., IsraHell, United Kingdom, France & Wahhabistan… you are on your own now….Up Yours…Greetings from Holland….

    • Freespirit

      Are you “related” to “Merijn” ?

      • Hasbara Hunter

        Yeah I’m Merijn….undercover….sssttt…

        • Freespirit

          LOL- good luck

    • FlorianGeyer

      I do like your new name :)

      We live in exciting times. The current demonstrations in France against the Zionist Government there areaid to be the largest since the french Revolution.

      The step I look forward to is the hunting down of all the traitorous politicians in NATO nations.

      • Hasbara Hunter

        They even said they are ready for a Revolution…things are going in the good direction… People are getting fed up with the Elitist Establishment…that think they can do anything unpunished….Drag them through the Streets….to Court with Traitors…Capital Punishment…

        • FlorianGeyer

          When the British establishment betrays Brexit there will be trouble as well :)

          • Hasbara Hunter

            We got a Cover-Up in Holland…Stef Blok & Mark Rutte are trying to Run Away from Supplying Arms to the Headchoppers… They Lied about everything..so I’m curious to see how far they will get…there are a lot of People Very Angry…I guess “Our” Government: Mark Rutte III might Fall before the Summer….

          • FlorianGeyer

            Like all despots, the Western Russophobes never thought their illegal acts in Syria would be held to account in the judicial courts or the ‘court of public opinion.

            The Western Russophobes never considered that they could lose in Syria.

            How wrong they are :)

  • People need first to wake up to realize we are ALL muslims. We had caliphate in the past and we should establish new united caliphate. Its pillar of our faith, but since the west involvement in last Ottoman caliphate, they forced Turkey to dissolve it and accept the criminal secularism as part of their government. https://youtu.be/P3O9d7PsI48

  • To all Muslims, to Ummah: We need to wake up and realize we are ALL muslims. We had caliphate in the past and we should establish new caliphate. It’s pillar of our faith. Since the west involvement in Ottoman caliphate, they forced Turkey and other Muslims to dissolve it and accept the criminal secularism as part of our governments. We have bright history, don’t listen to those who are low. Wake up muslims. wake up Ummah. https://youtu.be/P3O9d7PsI48

    • Willing Conscience (The Truths

      Gee your avatar is the picture of a pretty western woman, are you trying to tell us something, you do know that Muslims don’t believe in LGBTQI rights don’t you, one of the many things I admire your faith for, I’d be a bit worried if I was your father, I think I’d ask you to change that avatar, unless of course you do look like the picture, which you might, but your not dressed appropriately for a good muslim woman, time to change your attire.
      Just remember, God is merciful too, as well as righteous.

    • occupybacon

      Heil Turkey, the real Caliphate of all Muslims!

    • FlorianGeyer

      Sod off and bugger a goat or something , idiot.

  • Willing Conscience (The Truths

    I don’t think Putin’s silly enough to try and take on Erdogan for the whole of Idlib, that would be a really tough campaign, after all it’s not just Idlib itself that has to be regained, it’s parts of northwestern Latakia, northern Hama and western Aleppo, too much for one operation, this guy is dreaming if he thinks that’s on the cards.
    If a deals done already as I suspect it is, Erdogan will leave the south of Idlib, Latakia and Hama voluntarily, he can’t afford to stay there anyway, he’s already broke and this area is just adding to the problem, so getting out isn’t something he would be opposed to. If a deal has been done we’ll see the Turkish proxies separating themselves from the Saudi HTS and moving north out of the areas in the south, leaving them exposed to the SAA and Russia. An operation starting at Hader in western Aleppo would mean the SAA would only have to head west for 60km and they would hit the Turkish border, which would then divide Idlib into a northern sector for Erdogan and a southern one for Assad. HTS would be trapped like fish in a barrel and it’d only take a few weeks from then to secure all of the southern areas, a repeat of the Darra/Quneitra campaign [cakewalk].
    That wouldn’t mean the Turks would remain in the north forever, just until the Kurds were ready to join Assad and participate in the next battle, the one to take back their homelands. That will be a really tough battle and best left for last, that won’t be a cakewalk, it’ll be a slaughterhouse.
    So I don’t agree with much this article said, just a few things.

    • yossef

      could you please explain the above article in simple language and give me the gist of it thanks

      • Willing Conscience (The Truths

        I mean that Erdogan can’t afford to have a war, because his country can’t afford it.
        If Putin said something like, lets just divide Idlib, you can have the top half , that you want, and we’ll keep the bottom half, and then and we don’t have to fight over it, it makes it a lot of sense, you get half of what you want at no cost, otherwise you have to pay the price and either, win the lot, or lose the lot. It’s better to divide and pay nothing, best deal.
        If The SAA only has to face HTS instead of the Turks and allies, it will be a lot easier to beat them, quick and easy victory. When the SAA have control of the bottom half of Idlib, they can then start negotiating with Erdogan, if that works good, if it doesn’t they’ll have to go to war with him to take the north of Idlib, a really tough battle.
        But by then the Kurds would have already started a war with Erdogan, and the SAA and Russia will most likely just join in. Cheers.

        • yossef

          thanks

  • Zionism = EVIL

    Russia and Iran’s patience with the headchoppers in Idlib is running short and the hammer is about to drop. Russia has just delivered a large batch of T-90 tanks and rocket systems in Tartus for the upcoming offensive. The US morons will either have to fight for their terrorists or run. The region is getting hotter for US idiots and Zionist scum.

    • christianblood

      Well-said!

      • Zionism = EVIL

        The region is getting hotter for the US scum and their Wahhabi headchoppers. More US occupation cowards were killed in Afghanistan today and 5 Emirati low lives were killed in Yemen a few hours ago. The US morons are hated by all.

    • Carne João Pasta

      They want to play with fire, they’ll get fire! They (US/Israel/KSA/UK, et al) started this crap, they shall deal with the consequences. Too f’n bad, right? It has to come to a close. This open ended war on terror bs is disgusting.

  • potcracker2588

    The liberation of the province is inevitable

    that was my sentence since weeks…and i always got riducled here…… once again..the BIGGEST ENEMY of the ASSAD regime is Erdogans Turkey………from day 1 of this conflict turkey sided with ALL forces including al-nusra and isis againts SAA.99.9% of all foreign fighters came through turkey, where there where hundreds of jihadi traiing camps, weapon suplly,logistics etc… even chemical weapons as proven by SAA when douma got liberated..the chemicals for chlorine attacks originated from turkish companies.sooner or later, putin will have to choose….the longer they wait the more complicated it gets….last news from idlib (also here on south front) was that FRENCH experts helped with the complicated procedure of adjusting chemical warheads on top of missiles.So how did french experts move there?? from where? only one possible answer expet for the good old enterprise “beam me up bs ” they came through turkey.and if anybody here thinks that turkish intelligence is not informed, maybe even a helpiing hand, is tottally nuts.
    hence..peace in syria will and can only be achieved by the turkish retreat back to turkey, an turkeys not involvement in the upcoming battle in idlib

    • Promitheas Apollonious

      I think Assad knows better than any one what you say here.

      • potcracker2588

        fell into my trap bro…… i quoted assad above…

      • potcracker2588

        by the smart man… the chemical attack with chlorine, like i mentioned ABOVE…just took place right NOW!!!

        smartasses here

    • gustavo

      Russia has now strong economical and commercial links with Turkey, that was the reason why Russia stopped the SAA offensive to Idlib last time with the fool Russia-Turkey agreement. SAA has not choice rather to send back Turkey home by force. Turkey is a NATO member and acts in agreement with NATO society (although pretend not to do that). Turkey has neutralize Russia Idlib-Afrin areas, and It looks like that Russia do not know what to do but to stop SAA offensive there. I am afraid Russia will accept (or has acepted) the partition of Syria in favor of Turkey-USA.

    • Hasbara Hunter

      My Country Holland Supplied Arms & Supported Headchoppers as well…Just as all the other Western Criminal Establishments…. Turkey is fully Cooperating with Russia….for quite a while now….The Putin-Erdogan-Idlib-Deal was Doomed to Fail from the very beginning….

  • RichardD

    A very well written article.

  • Davki

    “Macron and Merkel have a huge problem with refugees”… yepp, not France or Germany though. The ‘problems’ are political: how to use refugees to woo extreme right-wing voters. That’s all. It is most unfortunate however, since leaving the refugees and those who actually take care of them alone, things would be much easier. But alas, the miserable will always be reviled and used by the powerful!

  • gustavo

    I hope Russia do not intend to stop this ofensive with its stupid peace Turkey-Russia peace plans. Russia-Iran-Hezbolah-Syria must start right away this offensive to destroy terrorists and to send back home Turkey and its stuff. After Idlib, Afrin and Al Suhkhanah, Al TAnaf must be taken back by force.

  • Icarus Tanović

    Alright, thats what is needed!

  • Jon

    The status quo on the ground has served Turkey and Russia well.

    Putin will not allow Assad to jeopardize the growing relationship Russia has with Turkey which is exponentially more important to Russian interests than is the fate of the Alowite clan.

    This site has long promoted the rebel gas attack theory so as to create a standby pretext for the use of Russian AirPower in the deconfliction zone. So Russia can go either way in this pending push by SAA into Aleppo: I predict Russia will protect its relationship with Turkey while still appearing to keep faith with Assad.

    Bottom line: some noise but no discernible change to the ground status quo.

  • speck

    You have to hand it to the Russians, they have been very careful no to escalate tensions, the Russians have played a very steady incremental game, they move their pieces very slowly and incrementally, if they tried to deploy these A2AD systems when they first came in, they might’ve provoked a reaction. almost all territories have been liberated, and with the idlib dmz, now instead of running for their victory they took a big step towards it. they used the shooting down of their plane very cleverly to deploy their air defense systems, game on !