Damascus unexpectedly sent massive reinforcements to the SAA in Saraqeb. Is a maxi operation against the militias imminent or is it just a move against the possible resumption of Spring Shield?
Something is moving in the north west of Syria. Damascus in the past few hours has sent hundreds of reinforcements to Saraqeb, on the border between Aleppo and Idlib, and north of Hama. In addition, Russian planes carried out several reconnaissance missions over the two provinces. It is not clear if a new offensive against the militias is about to start or if Bashar Assad and Moscow fear that the truce with Turkey may end soon and the Spring Shield operation will resume. It is no coincidence that Ankara continues to send numerous soldiers and vehicles to the area. Formally, to secure the section of the M4 where joint patrols should pass. In reality, however, it is believed that Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to create a sort of maxi-contingent, ready to move immediately and already within the neighboring country. What is certain, however, is that the tension in the dial is dangerously increasing.
Turkey is struggling with militias in the Syrian province. These ask for support, but the agreement signed with Russia ties Ankara’s hands. The coronavirus spread has saved time, but a maxi SAA offensive would call everything into question
Indeed, Turkey is in difficulty with Idlib’s militias, historic allies, following the agreement reached with Russia on Syria. These call for immediate support in the campaign against Damascus, but Ankara has its hands tied. The only advantage is given by the explosion of the coronavirus in the country, which in fact has almost eliminated the maneuvers on the field. The COVID-19, although it has saved Erdogan time, has not resolved the matter. Moscow has also increased the pressure so that the issue with local jihadists is resolved and joint patrols on the M4 can finally start as planned. Therefore, a large-scale SAA offensive in the province would be counterproductive for Turkey. It would take up precious time in Ankara to resolve the controversy with parallel diplomacy. The militias would increase the pressure and there would be a real risk of dangerous tears in the area of influence, moreover near the border.
Damascus played well the game in Idlib, avoiding attacking the militias on the M4 and leaving Turkey the burden of resolving the matter. If the new operation starts, Erdogan would be forced to choose whether to respect the pacts with Russia or support the jihadists
Damascus played well the game in Idlib. First, it avoided attacking the militias on the M4, if not in the peripheral areas of the province, leaving Turkey to solve the security problems. Then, using the coronavirus weapon, it almost completely stopped the attacks. Now, after strengthening the garrisons in the east (especially in Ain Issa), it surprisingly sends reinforcements to Saraqeb, further increasing the pressure on Ankara but without violating the truce. The strategy will force Erdogan to make a quick decision: to support local jihadists, by failing to agree with Moscow or to discharge them. This, however, translates into the loss of their support and the creation of a new enemy, probably much more dangerous than the SAA.