In the early hours of August 7, the Turkish military shelled several positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the city of Ma`arat al-Nu`man in the southern Idlib countryside.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Turkish artillery strikes didn’t result in any losses in the SAA’s ranks. The strikes were carried out from posts in the al-Zawya Mount area.
“[The shelling] coincided with intense flights of Bayraktar combat drones in the skies of Idlib governorate,” the monitoring group said in a report.
In the last two days, there have been heavy clashes between the SAA and Turkish-backed militants in Greater Idlib. Both sides sustained losses in southern Idlib and northern Lattakia. According to unconfirmed reports, Russian service members were also injured.
The Turkish artillery strikes were likely meant to deter and intimidate the SAA and its allies, who are reportedly planning a new operation in Greater Idlib.
Turkey’s actions and military buildup in Greater Idlib encourage the remaining militants there. Ankara committed under the March 5 agreement with Russia to neutralize these militants. Yet, it is now supporting them.