"Turkish and Russian officials are reviewing deployment of their forces in the Syrian border region of Tel Rifaat, Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said
"Moscow signaled Sunday it would expand military operations around Idlib to face the probable creation of forces that plan to launch attacks on the city of Hama.
Idlib is under the administrative control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is dominated by a faction previously known as al-Nusra Front.
Chief of Russia’s center for the reconciliation of conflicting parties in Syria Major-General Viktor Kupchishin said that militants in the south of the de-escalation zone in Idlib led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are creating a strike force and their attack on Hama is not ruled out.
On Sunday, the Turkish Army sent additional personnel and military equipment to units deployed along the border with Syria.
Meanwhile, shortly after the killing of a Turkish lieutenant, Turkish-backed Syrian factions announced Sunday that they controlled the two villages of Maraanaz and al-Malikiyah, the Kurdish forces’ major posts for attacking the city of Azaz.
The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it liberated the two northern Syrian villages from the YPG/PKK terror group."Reuters
Syrian rebels backed by Turkey (some of them backed by Turkey, some not. That's my opinion) said on Monday that Moscow and its Syrian government ally were trying to wrest control of two major highways in their last enclave in the northwest of the country in a bid to shore up Syria’s sanction-hit economy. (that makes sense)Written about these highways previously
The sixth day of the campaign by government forces saw heavy aerial attacks targeting the city of Jisr al-Shughour and the al-Ghab plain, as well as the towns of al-Latamenah and Maarat al-Numan in the south of Idlib province, the rebels said.
Taking those areas would bring President Bashar al-Assad close to regaining control over the strategic M5 and M4 highways from Aleppo to Hama and Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, two of Syria’s most important pre-war arteries.
The first few days of the assault struck at towns in northern Hama and southern Idlib province inside a buffer zone agreed in September between Russia and Turkey as part of a deal which averted a major offensive on the area, the last major foothold of the Syrian rebellion.Notice that Turkey has been pretty quiet about all this.
"Residents say tens of thousands have fled their homes, many to camps on the Turkish border, since the latest offensive began. Some who failed to reach those camps sought shelter in olive orchards, residents and witnesses said.
“The shelling and aerial strikes have increased in intensity and ferocity and the area hit has widened with more intensity,” Naji Mustafa of the Turkey-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) rebel group told Reuters.
Opening the commercial and passenger routes through Idlib province would reassert the state’s control over a fragmented economy that sprung up during eight years of conflict and now facing U.S. and EU sanctions, economic experts say"Going back to those fuel shortages..
"Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that he did not rule out a full-scale assault on militants in Idlib province, after Russian officials publicly questioned how far they would continue to tolerate jihadist control"Vladimir Putin's statement regarding Idlib, did, in fact, rule out a full scale operation at this time
Putin ""In principle, I do not rule this [offensive] out, but today together with our Syrian friends, we believe that this is inappropriate, given this humanitarian component," he said.
- Appears a very targeted operation is going on at this moment.
- I'm thinking a limited operation to take back specific territory.