Russia anticipates that the US, Britain and France with the help of Turkey, will try to use the Syrian liberation of Idlib for an all-out attack on the Syrian government after a staged chemical event.
Reporter Robert Fisk recently traveled along the frontline of Idlib governorate in Syria, but saw remarkably few Syrian forces. He says that the upcoming attack will smaller than expected and not as intense as expected.
According to geographer Fabrice Balanche, the Syrian army will, in a first phase, only attack the Turkish supported “moderate” rebels, the Al-Qaeda/Nusra/HTS brigades, in support of the observations Robert Fisk made on the ground.
Following both reports, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian news agency TASS on Friday that the Syrian army was not preparing a major offensive against Idlib. Russia-backed Syrian forces have massed around Idlib in recent weeks, fearing a US-led offensive instead.
He made the statement during a plenary meeting alongside top German and Russian officials in Berlin on Friday. Lavrov explained the situation: “What is being presented at the moment as the beginning of a Russian-backed offensive by Syrian forces is not a faithful representation of the facts.
“Syrian forces and we ourselves are simply reacting to the attacks coming from the zone of Idlib,” he added. Lavrov also said that Russia was concerned about the welfare of civilians.
“We will take care on these issues, we will establish humanitarian corridors, set up ceasefire zones and we are doing everything to ensure that the civilian population would not suffer,” he noted.
The UN has warned that a full assault on Idlib could create the century’s “worst humanitarian catastrophe”.
Idlib is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) which is an internationally banned terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda. Turkey has over a year to solve the HTS problem under an existing de-escaltion agreement and failed.
HTS, foreign jihadists, as well as “moderate” fighters affiliated with Turkey prevent civilians from leaving and continue to terrorise the population. “The Syrian Arab Army has opened more than one corridor but the terrorists are not allowing anyone to leave because they are using them as human shields,” one refugee told Australian ABC News.
HTS, the cover name of al-Qaeda in Syria, is the same group which attacked the US on 9/11.
All border areas between Idlib and Turkey are under control of HTS, and Turkey is effectively arming the HTS, the group it is supposed to eliminate, by dispatching reinforcements to its observation posts in Idlib, including tanks. Sources told Reuters that Turkey has stepped up supplies to the jihadists, including ammunition and rockets.
Turkish President Erdogan has also been blackmailing the EU, saying a new wave of refugees may be imminent. His spokesman Ibrahim Kalin warned that a new refugee influx would have “international repercussions” if Ankara’s deal with the European Union from two years ago to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Europe, end.
“Another migrant wave coming to Turkey at a time when we already host millions of refugees will cause other complications. This will spread from here to Europe and other countries.”
The Syrian Tiger Forces has carried out only offensive operations along the Hama-Idlib axis, clearing out some jihadi forward entrenchments, SouthFront reported. They also confirmed the elimination of a senior jihadi commander by SAA artillery strikes.
Turkey has been staging “protests” against Damascus in Idlib.
Today, #AlQaeda affiliated #HTS & Ahrar al-Sham invited people of #Idlib governorate to protest against #Russia & #Syria|n regime & demand #EU & #US to stop the bombardments. I just studied the pictures & it turned out protesters were 90% terrorists & even had #AlQaeda flags! pic.twitter.com/cdfvBnd3Tw
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) September 14, 2018