Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 20, 2019

Syria Launches New Idlib Campaign - UN Battle Over Control Of Aid For Syrians

The Syrian army campaign to liberate the terrorist held Idleb governorate was restarted yesterday. The campaign had been halted at the end of August after ceasefire negotiations between Turkey and Russia. Since then nearly a thousand people have died on all sides around Idleb during skirmishes, artillery attacks by rebels on Aleppo city and Syrian and Russian air strikes.

The general aim of the re-launched campaign is to liberate the cities Maarat al-Numan and Saraqib and to gain control over the north to south M5 highway between Hama and Aleppo.


The currently most active front is in the southeast of the territory where at least two axes of attacks take place in the direction of Maarat a-Numan, a city that had 80,000 inhabitants when the war on Syria started. The terrain is relatively flat and allows to make good use of tanks.


The ground campaign is supported by more than 100 aerial bombing runs per day and by heavy artillery strikes.

The Syrian news agency SANA reports first successes:

Syrian Arab Army’s units on Friday cleared villages and farms of Um Jalal, Rabe’a, Khreibah, Sh’aret al-Ajayz, Barnan, and Um Twineh, Tal Mahoo, al-Fariha, Bresa, and Tal al-Sheeh in Idleb southeastern countryside after fierce clashes with terrorist organizations, inflicting heavy losses upon them.
The reporter indicated that that the farms and villages which had been cleared included basic headquarters for the terrorist organizations used by them to attack the safe areas and launch rockets on people in Aleppo southeastern countryside and Hama northern countryside.

The Syrian Observatory in Britain confirmed the progress. It further reports that at least 38 'rebels' were killed.

Another fight over Syria is currently taking place at the United Nations. The UN Security Council resolution 2165 is up for its yearly renewal. It regulates UN humanitarian aid access from third countries into various areas of Syria that at some point were not held by the Syrian government. Russia wants it to be changed to adopt to new circumstances especially in the northeast of Syria.

We have never been really enthusiastic about such thing as cross-border humanitarian operations, because it runs counter to basic UN principles of providing humanitarian assistance. Nevertheless, we went for it, because we had understanding that against the background that existed in Syria, such method of delivering humanitarian assistance to those who needed it was necessary. Now things have changed. The government of Syria is in control of the major part of the territory. Humanitarian assistance is delivered as per usual procedure – with consent of Damascus. Out of four crossings for this cross-border assistance, only two are really used. We realize that there is a part of Syrian population, in Idlib in the first place, that still needs humanitarian deliveries, which, among other aspects, has to do with winter that will come soon. Probably, at this moment these so-called “cross-border deliveries” are the easiest way those who need aid can get it. Based on these and other humanitarian considerations, we have put forward our draft resolution that proposes to extend this mechanism for another 6-month term.

Russia is also concerned that the aid flows to certain groups and not to those in need. It wants the current UN aid crossings into Syria's northeast to close down.

Parts of northeastern Syria are under control of Turkey and parts are under U.S. control with the help of the Kurdish YPG. But most of the area is now held by Syrian and Russian troops even while it continues to be under administrative control of the Kurds. The Syrian government wants to pressure the YPG Kurds to give up their control and to resubmit to the Syrian government.

It argues that aid to the area should flow through Syrian government controlled territory and should not come independently through Turkey or Iraq. It wants the aid to be distributed by the UN itself or through Syrian organizations and not through the illegitimate Kurdish administration which uses it to control the population.

Germany, Belgium and Kuwait, who wrote the current R2449 draft which is supposed to replace R2165, even want to open an additional fifth border crossing point from Turkey into the area. They rejected the Russian demands. Russia then threatened to veto the renewal of the resolution.

The Zionist lobby wants the U.S. to withdraw its share of financing of the UN aid and to give it to "international NGOs that are not registered in Damascus" or to "capable local partners in non-regime areas" - i.e the terrorist in Idleb and the YPG.

What's In Blue detailed the development of the discussion throughout the last weeks. The Security Council was meeting yesterday to be briefed about Syria. While it was supposed to vote on the renewal the press release at the UN site only reports of a discussion.

The decision on the issue was presumably postponed. The renewal of R2165 will be redrafted and a compromise may come up for a vote later today.

Posted by b on December 20, 2019 at 18:20 UTC | Permalink


Geroman provides a map of progress over last 24 hrs.

Idlib Terrorists clearly see Turkey as their protector and ally as this protest photo proves:

"Mass demonstrations took place today on Friday in several cities and towns in Idlib governorate, protesting the Turkish silence over the ongoing military escalation in Idlib by the Syrian government and Russian forces."

Reports also of people trying to breech the border with Turkey to escape but being repelled by Terrorists.

ANNA News provides lots of photo and video coverage of the combat area, although its text is in Russian.

SAA has also restarted its offensive in Northeastern Latakia aimed at Kobani. I've also read reports saying Kaliber cruise missiles were used, but I've yet to see confirmation by the Russian military.

There also seems to be a push from Western Aleppo to expand the buffer zone there. Overall, lots of action and positive results for SAA.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 20 2019 19:09 utc | 1

thanks b... the meddlers will not stop meddling... i appreciate the details here and hope russia is able to bring some sense to them, but it sure is taking a long time...

Posted by: james | Dec 20 2019 19:14 utc | 2

Weaponized humanitarian aid... No food or clean water for anyone opposing US hegemony or head-chopper proxies. Nothing really new for the US and 'allies'.

MintPress from 2015
Saudi Arabia Weaponizes Humanitarian Aid In Yemen

Worse yet, the Saudis, UAE and Hadi government were going to require biometric identification of any Yemeni refugee that wanted aid. And it wouldn't use that data to track down Houthi. They promised! No idea if they rolled this idea out for those in Turkish refugee camps, but I would guess anti-Assad refugees don't need such Orwellian oversight to be fed.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 20 2019 19:20 utc | 3

Since it concerns Syria and its region, I'm relinking to Zarif's Doha Forum Speech so more people get an opportunity to hear what he has to offer and particularly what his formulation is regarding the reason for the current unsatisfactory situation. Zarif's portion of the video begins at the 18 minute mark and lasts about 13 minutes.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 20 2019 19:22 utc | 4

We should be astounded that Belgium, Germany and Kuwait have any business writing a draft UN Resolution that determines the flow of UN humanitarian aid into Syria. These nations have hardly been impartial in their attitudes to, and their actions, against Syria. The only nation that has the knowledge and information on the ground about the areas in Syria that most need the aid is Syria itself. But of course there's no way the UN will ever listen to or take heed of what Syria needs or proposes. Dare I say that in the times of greatest crisis, as in Syria, Yemen, Bolivia and parts of the DRC being plundered by Rwanda, the UN is as useful as a bucket full of holes in putting out a fire?

Posted by: Jen | Dec 20 2019 19:39 utc | 5

Off-topic but 'when it rains, it pours,' as they say. Perhaps Boeing might manufacture carnival rides or mopeds?

"Boeing's Starliner astronaut capsule will return to Earth after an unsuccessful test flight. The glitch deals a blow to NASA's plan to stop reliance on Russia."

Posted by: Lawrence Magnuson | Dec 20 2019 19:43 utc | 6

Ah yes, a MoA Syria sitrep, my fave. Many txs to b and happy holidays..

Posted by: Lozi9n | Dec 20 2019 19:52 utc | 7

@all - At the UNSC the German/Belgium/Kuwait resolution draft has been table for a vote today. China and Russia vetoed it. There is still time until January 10 for the UN to continue the humanitarian aid. If a solution can be found by then a new draft may be tabled.

Otherwise it is either the end of UN aid for Idleb as well as for the Kurdish controlled region or that aid will have to go through Syrian government territory.

Posted by: b | Dec 20 2019 20:03 utc | 8

OCHN map (pdf, 2018) of UN border-crossing points being discussed, minus the proposed Tal Abyad addition. One can see why some nations prefer aid to be delivered from outside Syria to anti-government areas, rather than run the risk of 'legitimizing the Syrian government' (Reuters words) and letting them distribute humanitarian aid like every other country.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 20 2019 20:05 utc | 9

@ Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 20 2019 19:20 utc | 3 who I am happy to see posting comments here again and who wrote

Weaponized humanitarian aid... No food or clean water for anyone opposing US hegemony or head-chopper proxies. Nothing really new for the US and 'allies'.

Exactly! If you can't beat them up with the MIC than starve them with global private finance led colonial politics.

Thanks for the ongoing coverage of the situation in Syria b

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 20 2019 20:05 utc | 10

And has many analysts have noted, this indicated Russia is finally fed up with Erdogans play. Turkeys escalation in Lybia (in addition to the year+ long Idlib deal fiasco, and the Turkish invasions in coordination with Donald against Russia's wishes) seems to have been the straw that broke the camels back.
The belief that Turkey would break ties with NATO was a laughable delusion anyway. Erdogan was always and will always play both sides to exploit them. And this he made skillfully.
So no total break of ties with Russia, but finally a more sobered up relation between Russia and Turkey. Muslim brotherhood extremists and state terrorists like Turkey will never fit into a close alliance with Russia. NATO and US on the other hand have no such qualms. Using Islamist extremism has on the contrary always been a US geopoltical tool.
So good that Russias political leadership now again pushes back against Erdogan and his minions, instead of betting on a pipe dream of appeasing Erdogan.
He is the last political leader on earth where appeasement would work. Even more in strong position Erdogan is as a much-needed and crucial NATO ally.
Even though it was clear that this policy change would come after Turkeys invasion, it still feels good its finally there.

Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr. | Dec 20 2019 21:31 utc | 11

I'm surprised the terrorists are even bothering to defend this territory. It's flat open countryside with the odd Tal and village to break up the terrain which is almost perfect for tanks supported by CAS. There are various tweets about how the terrorists have counter-attacked successfully but in this terrain the moment you leave cover except in a heavy armoured vehicle your life-expectancy approaches minutes if not seconds.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Dec 20 2019 21:32 utc | 12

Time for another another chemical weapons attack in Idlib by the evil Assad regime - to show that he cannot be trusted with humanitarian aid. That's what happened in Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017 when a conference started in Brussels that proposed improving humanitarian aid delivery inside Syria. .

Posted by: Brendan | Dec 20 2019 21:55 utc | 13

Wow! Propaganda or ?, "Dozens of ex-French soldiers joined jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq: video."

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21 2019 0:45 utc | 14

Once Idlib is fumigated it will be time to eradicate or at least expunge other foreign rats. Heroic effort getting rid of all of them, hats off to Syria, Russia, Iran, even China.

Posted by: Trisha | Dec 21 2019 1:51 utc | 15

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21 2019 0:45 utc | 14

CAT links to a Telegraph article via Twitter:

The conservative newspaper Le Figaro published excerpts on Wednesday from the forthcoming report by the Centre for the Analysis of Terrorism, a Paris-based think tank.

Posted by: moon | Dec 21 2019 5:54 utc | 16

All these wars are breeding new terrorists that will bring the next 9/11. In fact those plans are already well in motion.

Posted by: لیزر موهای زائد | Dec 21 2019 8:35 utc | 17

karlof1 : the Figaro alerting now about french military elements in militant groups tells a lot on Paris' reluctancy about judging our own terrorists. Both socialists and Macronists helped al Nusra etc. against "le boucher de Damas". Now they don't know & don't want to know to what dangerous extent they where implicated.

Posted by: chb | Dec 21 2019 9:39 utc | 18

It has hit the news last week
How convenient, hide your SF by claiming they were soldiers who became rogue. They have a number of these who are directly involved in the attacks on EU soil.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 21 2019 10:27 utc | 19

So another probing incursion by the SAA, waiting to see how far Erdogan has increased his influence over the media in Idlib. Any sign of a false flag chemical attack and SAA will halt and walk away from unspoken agreement in northern Syria. My guess is that we will not hear about a false flag and that SAA will progress at least until the Hama-Aleppo highway.
Erdogan is pivoting towards the East, but there are benefits for him in doing this. Recent meeting with lead members of Hamas show that Erdogan's Muslim Brotherhood credentials are winning friends. Hamas would like to open doors to Syrian government and Erdogan is much more likely to succeed in this than Hamas' other paymaster Qatar. Erdogan's friends will have turned White Helmet operatives away from UK/US and more towards northen Syria. If Erdogan can deliver Idlib to Assad, then he gets quid pro quo in northern Syria. It's a win-win for him.

Posted by: aniteleya | Dec 21 2019 10:52 utc | 20

@ aniteleya | Dec 21 2019 10:52 utc | 20

IMHO it is doubtful that the Syrians would agree to conceding parts of their sovereign territory to Erdogan. Apart from the fact that the Syrians still want Hatay back, allowing the Turks to nab off more pieces of Syria would additionally create a precedent towards the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.

The 'operatives' are of little serious concern to Erdogan. He can temporarily off-load them to Lybia, until their next assignment in an area to the south of Russia and to the west of China.

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 21 2019 11:57 utc | 21

>Once Idlib is fumigated it will be time to eradicate or at least
>expunge other foreign rats.
>Posted by: Trisha | Dec 21 2019 1:51 utc | 15

More rats are showing up every day. Based on official Turkish reports, Press TV is reporting that Saudi Arabia deploys dozens of troops to key oil field in eastern Syria

The article says Egyptian and Saudi technicians have recently arrived to help Saudi Aramco steal Syrian oil. I don't see how this adventure can end well. Perhaps Erdo and Bin Sawman are drinking the same crazy juice supplied by the CIA.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Dec 21 2019 18:39 utc | 22

@ Posted by: Trailer Trash | Dec 21 2019 18:39 utc | 22 who wrote
I don't see how this adventure can end well.

Boy there are some God of Mammon sick folks in the world. Why does it have to get worse before it can get better? I agree that is time for drones to take out the support base near the Omar oil field in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 21 2019 19:59 utc | 23

@8 Funny seeing Kelly Craft get blasted on Twitter after she has the gall to criticise Russia & China veto. Here:

Posted by: Lozion | Dec 22 2019 2:24 utc | 24

If there is some humanitarian aid now sitting around then the UN might want to consider repurposing it.

Flint Missouri might be a good starting point. Clean drinking water a priority, obviously.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 22 2019 4:16 utc | 25

@ Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 22 2019 4:16 utc | 25 who has a great idea but perhaps got their state wrong

I think you want Flint Michigan, Yeah, Right?

@ Posted by: Lozion | Dec 22 2019 2:24 utc | 24 with the Kelly Craft twitter link....thanks

Glad to see so many speaking truth to power....wonder if the message will ever sink in?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 22 2019 4:26 utc | 26

Repurposed refugees are all the rage. Especially where EL-bit systems winning or still competing for contracts.

Posted by: Qparticle | Dec 22 2019 13:51 utc | 27

Missing from the article is the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. This is part of America's latest defense bill and offers new opportunities to impose sanctions:

Posted by: Wim | Dec 22 2019 17:38 utc | 28

I think Belgian foreign policy decisions are limited to 'which large country shall we follow'.
Concerning the evolution of the Idlib offensive I assume the idea is to raise the pressure until the jihadis decide to leave through Turkey. That will still be a carnage but not as much as having to fight them till the last man.
Only, Peter Ford has pointed out that at the moment virtually all the money is coming from Qatar and KSA is only providing a little funding. If Qatar cuts the funding at some point because they adjust their position then Idlib will be freed with limited additional damage. But why would they adjust their position?

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 23 2019 11:54 utc | 29

SAA is kicking butt, only 7km to Maarat Al Numan..

Posted by: Lozion | Dec 23 2019 21:25 utc | 30

Re: 30 Posted by: Lozion

Yes, the SAA is moving with speed as the SNA falls back from untenable positions. At a time like this, I really miss Ziad's blog, Syrian Perspective, which remains down.

Posted by: Activist Potato | Dec 24 2019 1:54 utc | 31

It is interesting to look at the correspondence in There you have The Guardian, the Independent, AFP, AP, Bloomberg and Reuters posting articles and my posts are not "evaporated" as they are in the Guardian and the Independent, if I go to their websites. I don't know why that is, perhaps Yahoo does not allow or provide censorship? Anyway, the interesting thing is the change of tone of the majority of the posts over the last few months. There are still a lot of ignorant posts parroting the usual Integrity Initiative line, but there is a continually increasing swell of posts hostile to the USG and Israel, to the CIA and MI5/6, to capitalism and austerity, to the characterization of the Syrian government as a "regime", to the characterization of Putin as a dictator and to the characterization of the rioters in HK as struggling for democracy. Particularly noticeable has been the rash of posts commending the treatment of the Uighurs by the Chinese, though I think quite a lot of those are more motivated by hatred of Islam than any doubt about the CIA story of the concentration camps and torture.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Dec 24 2019 21:51 utc | 32

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