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Russia surprisingly withdraws its troops from Saraqeb and diverts them further south to Idlib in Maarat Al-Noaman. Signal for Damascus-Ankara on the verge of meeting in Moscow or simple support to the SAA in the south?
New change of plans in the war in Syria between Turkey and Damascus: Russia withdraws from Saraqeb. Federation military police (MP) units have left the disputed city and deployed further south to Idlib, near Maarat Al-Noaman. This can have two meanings: o Moscow wants to ease the pressure on Ankara and give Bashar Assad a signal on the eve of today’s meeting in Moscow between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Or, it does not believe that the Spring Shield forces operation and their allies will attempt to resume attack it shortly. Therefore, it is concentrating efforts in the southern area of the province to support the advance of the army (SAA). It is no coincidence that the urban center, the gateway between Idlib and Aleppo, was not involved in clashes. On the other hand, a violent SAA offensive is underway between Hama and Idlib, supported by Federation fighters.
Meanwhile, Erdogan continues to threaten the EU by leveraging the migrant crisis. Brussels, however, takes time waiting for the bilateral agreement in Russia
Meanwhile, Erdogan continues to threaten Europe by exploiting the leverage of migrants. Indeed, the Turkish president reiterated that EU must provide support for “political and humanitarian solution in Syria” if it wants the issue to be solved. In fact, he aims an official endorsement of the Spring Shield operation and a pressure on the Assad regime to withdraw troops behind the lines established by the Sochi agreements. In addition, Ankara pretends that Brussels release part of the funds linked to the agreement on migrants, as well as the liberalization of visas and better customs agreements. The European Union, however, takes time to wait for the meeting in Moscow. Putin, in fact, has no intention of allowing Ankara to continue the maneuvers. Russia, especially now that Iran is out of the game due to Coronavirus, wants Assad to regain control of its territory and to confirm itself as Damascus’ main partner.
The foundations for the truce will be laid in Moscow. Erdogan will have to lower his head with Putin but will still get the buffer zone on the border with Syria. Assad may conquer the strongholds of Spring Shield allied militiamen, but will not retake the whole territory. If there are surprises, Ankara will also pay for them in Libya
The foundations for the truce between Turkey and Syria will be laid in Moscow. It is unlikely that Erdogan will get back the territory foreseen by the Sochi agreements. But he will still maintain control of a buffer zone along the borders between the two countries. Assad, on the other hand, will be able to re-conquer the strongholds of the jihadist militias who fight alongside the Spring Shield operation, but he will still have to give up some strategic areas. In this way Putin will restore balance, taking advantage of the great leverage he has on both Damascus and Ankara, and will increase Russia’s hold on the region. Indeed, Erdogan knows that he cannot attempt surprises. If he do, a very harsh “punishment” would come from Moscow. Not only in the Middle Eastern country, but also in Libya. Turkey would also therefore be forced to move closer to NATO, but from a disadvantageous position that would result in the obligation to comply with its regulations.