The elite Tiger Forces have deployed several units on frontlines with the opposition-held town of Qalat al-Madiuq in the northwestern Hama countryside, the pro-government al-Masdar News blog reported on January 16 citing a military source.
According to the source, the deployment of these units is a part of ongoing preparation to launch a limited military operation around the governorate of Idlib. Russia and Turkey reached an agreement to establish a demilitarized zone around the governorate last September. However, the zone is yet to be established.
A source in the SAA told SouthFront that the claims of a near military operation around Idlib could be not accurate. However, he confirmed that the Tiger Forces were deployed in northwestern Hama and revealed that many units of the Republican Guard, 1st Division, 3rd Division, 9th Division and the 100th Regiment will be also deployed in the region soon.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan are set to meet in Moscow on January 23 to discuss the situation in Idlib among other issues. Local observers believe that the two leaders may agree on a new mechanism to reinforce the failed demilitarized zone agreement during the meeting.
If the two leaders reach no agreement, the status quo in Idlib will likely remain. This would allow radical groups to further expand their influence in the opposition-held part of northwestern Syria.