Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 10, 2020

Syria - Turkey Invades Idleb But Its Bluff Will Be Called

Since last week's post on the Syrian Idleb campaign the Syrian army has made significant progress.

Idleb governorate Feb 3 2020

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Saraqib, Al Eis and dozens of other cities and towns were liberated. Large parts of the M5 highway in Idleb are now under Syrian government control.

Idleb governorate Feb 10 2020

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The aim of the current campaign is to regain control over the M5 highway between Damascus and Aleppo city and the M4 highway between Latakia and Aleppo. These highways are of importance for the revival of Syria's economy.

It was originally Turkey's task to guarantee free civilian traffic on both highways. The Sochi Memorandum of Understanding (pdf) between Turkey and Russia, signed on September 17 2018, provides (machine translated):

3. A demilitarized zone with a depth of 15-20 km will be created in the de-escalation zone.

4. The specific passage of the lines defining the demilitarized zone will be agreed upon in the course of further consultations.

5. All radical terrorist groups will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by October 15, 2018.

6. All tanks, artillery, MLRS and mortars of the conflicting parties will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by October 10, 2018.

7. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey and the military police of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will carry out coordinated patrols and monitoring using unmanned aerial vehicles in the demilitarized zone.

8. In the interests of ensuring free movement of local residents and goods, as well as restoring trade and economic ties, transit traffic along the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored before the end of 2018.

None of these points were ever fulfilled by Turkey.

Idleb is still under control of the al-Qaeda aligned Hayat Tahrir al Shams (HTS) which has continued to attack Syrian government positions as well as civilian targets. HTS is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization, including by Turkey. But Turkey has done nothing to remove it. It instead provides the organization with weapons and other supplies.

The reaction of Turkey's wannabe Sultan Erdogan to the Syrian army campaign has been hysterical. He threatened several times that he would militarily intervene if the Syrian army operation does not stop. Over the last days more than 1,450 Turkish military vehicles, including tanks, heavy artillery and armored infantry vehicles, invaded the terrorist held Idleb area.

Turkey says that these are just reinforcements for its 'observer posts'. But in reality these forces are configured to attack the Syrian army. One Turkish artillery groups tried to set up a position at the former Syrian military airbase Taftanaz north of Saraqib. Earlier today it came under Syrian artillery fire. At least six Turkish soldiers were killed and several wounded. A Turkish helicopter was allowed to come in to evacuate the casualties.

Turkish and Russian 'observation points'

Source: ISWnews - bigger

The Turkish military claimed that it retaliated for the attack:

The Turkish army responded to the targets determined in the region, said the statement.

“The necessary response was given, the targets were destroyed and the blood of our martyrs was not left on the ground. The developments are being closely monitored and necessary measures are being taken,” said the statement.

There is no evidence that any such retaliation has taken place.

Turkey demands that the Syrian army retreats back to the lines where its current campaign started months ago.

That is not going to happen.

Today, while the Turkish army settled among the terrorist, HTS sent two suicide vehicles against the Syrian lines. It is not yet known if they caused casualties. If the Turkish army wants to be the bodyguard of such terrorist it will be handled appropriately.

The Russian and Syrian air forces are in control of the airspace over Idleb. Russian war ships are deployed near the coast of Syria and are ready to launch their cruise missiles. Russia can reinforce its airforce in Syria within 24 hours. Turkey's airforce is not able to change that picture.

After the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan nearly three quarters of Turkey's  airforce pilots were dismissed. The maintenance status of Turkey's 240 F-16 fighter jets is dubious. It is estimated that less of a quarter of them are ready to fly. The F-16s are no match for the Russian Su-34 jets which cover Syria. They also lack the capabilities to overcome the Russian air defenses. Then there is also Russia's economic leverage over Turkey.

Over the last few days there have been intense talks between the Russian and the Turkish side. The Russians are not budging. Syria will liberate the two highways that Turkey promised would be opened under the Sochi MoU. Should the Turkish army try to prevent that it will be bombed to high heaven.

Erdogan can not risk a war with Russia in Syria. He is bluffing and his bluff will be called.

Posted by b on February 10, 2020 at 17:56 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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israel keeps bombing damascus... at what point does this insanity stop? if syria was bombing tel aviv on a regular basis - it would have been covered in the msm non stop for forever by the west... again - the hypocrisy of the western msm is on full display and says the western msm is bought and paid for, as opposed to some neutral source for news..

Posted by: james | Feb 14 2020 2:00 utc | 201

An interesting vignette of Western multi-dimensional pathology concerning Syria. Today, The Guardian has a report from Syria, Americans look bad (because of Trump, but with a hint to the pathology deeply settled in Pentagon) and Russians look OK.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/13/syria-us-troops-mission-qamishli-quagmire

The story is written by an expert, and it is garbled, with partial disclosures tucked toward the end. The narrative starts with American troops in north-east Syria being increasingly unwelcome by "villagers", a convoy was pelted and threatened with guns, they shot back killing a boy and wounding another, then they got under a siege. American war plane started to buzz above and a Russian patrol came. Americans were allowed to drive out of the village.

Then there is an explanation that this is a village that always zealously supported the government and even Kurds are not welcome. Just like that.

So the trigger of the event was not that Kurds of the region are becoming disenchanted with Americans, although that may be the case, but American stumbled into a village of Assad supporters. Weird that such a thing exists, isn't it? But should Americans have that village on the map? 100% that they do, it is a part of the enclave that includes part of the nearby town Qamishli, and the military airport of Syrian government, and a cluster of villages, mostly Assyrian, Christians who may still preserve their pre-Arabic language. Every map of the Syrian conflict has this enclave on the map. Americans were never allowed in. What twisted mentality made them to drive there?

If you look for connections, you get an impression of a terribly tangled spaghetti dish with red sauce, the color unfortunately does not come from tomatoes. Parochial and global politics propels and constrains villagers, militaries of powers of various sizes, and journalists. Some confluence of these forces open a small window in dense fog of the permitted "responsible press coverage".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 11:18 utc | 202

@ Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 1:10 utc | 199

Friedman seemingly learned some history, without understanding, and in particular, there was a time, ca. 1600, when mighty Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth collected together Poles, Baltics, what is now Belorus and Ukraine, nicely interspersed with Jews could make short work of Russians etc.

I think that Friedman was handed a piece of existing script. These mythical narratives are spun against populations in order to manipulate geostrategic changes. In this case it is about carving up Russia.

It would be more historically correct to attempt to revive the old Lithuanian empire, because that one actually included parts of western Russia, whereas the old Polish "empire" consisted at best of not even half of current Poland, but did contain Moravia and Galicia. In the latter regions, being part of another Polish empire is probably not very popular.

Since there are far more modern Poles than Lithuanians, and given that Lithuanians do not feel very empowered towards modern-day Russia, it was apparently deemed more practical to have Friedman sell the concept to Poles instead.

In Polish the assessment would be "To se ne vrati" (This will not come back, in Czech because it sounds better than "To nie wróci").
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azh5SPmcJ_A <-- the glory of the Commonwealth, in Lithuanian

Note how that video ends with an appeal to the revival of "monarchism". In the Polish and Lithuanian empires of yore, 90% of the population was property of the ruling feudal landlords. Nobody in his right mind would want to return to that system of institutionalized serfdom. That is why it is romanticized as "monarchism", a pure mystification of the cruel historical reality.

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 14 2020 11:20 utc | 203

@ Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 11:18 utc | 202

Especially since their recent Idlib-related ouvertures towards Erdogan, the USA is increasingly called names like "the enemy within" by Kurdish twitter voices...

Posted by: Lurk | Feb 14 2020 11:27 utc | 204

The Commonwealth could do "short work of the Russians"? Did they actually check their history? Sure, the Poles invaded Russia and occupied Moscow for a time, but that was during the big Times of Trouble that followed the demise of the old Rurik dynasty, when civil war, usurpers and widespread famine had massively weakened the country. As soon as the Russians got their shit together, they kicked them out (and then picked the Romanovs to rule them...). The Commonwealth would find later, during the Deluge and during the later partitions, how useful such a patchwork empire can be.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Feb 14 2020 11:46 utc | 205

The Commonwealth could do "short work of the Russians"?

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Feb 14 2020 11:46 utc | 205

"Short work" it was, surely it did not last a long time, the narrative is a bit more complex but there was a period between 1614 and 1648 when Commonwealth looked rather mighty. Without going to details, "to se ne vrati", and you could find few hundred people in the region who think otherwise. One of them talked to Mr. Friedman.

The way It relates to the topic of Syria is that it gives a glimpse into thinking in lamentably influential circles that want to "rationally reorganize" this reason or that, be it Middle East or East-Central Europe. Some "rational plans" are utterly fanciful, but they contribute to the tone of "inter-agency consensus". Namely that it is OK to slice and dice and have every piece beholden to the wise Lords of the West.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 12:49 utc | 206

old Polish "empire" consisted at best of not even half of current Poland, but did contain Moravia and Galicia. In the latter regions, being part of another Polish empire is probably not very popular. Lurk | Feb 14 2020 11:20 utc

You scrambled some details. Polish kingdom was reconstituted after a period of fragmentation with less than half of current Poland but it became greater, ca. 2/3 of current while some part of "Galicia" (XVIII century Hapsburg invention) got polonized. Concerning Moravia, this is the extend of Polish rule:

"Bolesław I Chrobry of Poland annexed Moravia in 999, and ruled it until 1019, when the Přemyslid prince Bretislaus recaptured it. "

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 13:08 utc | 207

There seems to be a news blockade about the huge and important progress of the Syrian Army assisted by Russian weapons and Russian air force, with some limited but important role of units related to Iran (important in the immediate vicinity of Aleppo).

It is very hard to find news using Google News, topic "Syria" is of no much help, but, surprisingly, "AP Syria" does provide relatively informative article written for AP news agency that appeared in many newspaper, although not easy to find. For example, it appeared in NYT, but it cannot be found by searching "Syria" in NYT own search.

AP Explains: Why Syria’s M5 is Assad’s highway to victory
BY ZEINA KARAM ASSOCIATED PRESS
FEBRUARY 14, 2020 07:02 AM

A link free from paywall is in a "https://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article240293121.html#storylink=cpy">business section

I observed before that various are placed in business section even if deemed not appropriate for the general population. Perhaps capitalists have a certain need to be informed, they invest money etc., and their needs get some sympathy from the Lords of Media, after all, the fellow capitalists.

Thus we learn that regaining the control of M5 is a boon to the regime because it is the main logistic route of Syria. Economic activity in the main industrial of Syria may revive, and translated to the language understood by readers of other section, Syrians can get some modicum of normal life, jobs, products to buy, this kind of things.

Otherwise, there is some reflection of what is going on in the main sections, Front and World (perhaps World/Middle East). And this is the atrocious misery of people fleeing attacks and bombing that Russia and Syrian regime inflict on them for some unfathomable reasons. Evil people trying to stay in power, other evil people helping them. Enabling the nation to regain normal life or preventing it is not mentioned. Verboten. Unless you have interest in business and understand the jargon.

On the wider scale, it is a calamity for the Empire. Wise Lords of the West (LoW) design a very good strategy: eliminate various slivers of the world that obstinately refuse to be obedient without using too much of expensive and overly labor intensive direct intervention, and this is to reduce the population of those slivers to abject misery, so upon reconstituting the former obedience they can be rewarded with bearable poverty.

How much of abject misery can be inflicted? Embargoes, confiscation of foreign assets and assorted sanctions are good, but whenever possible they add utter mayhem as we can observe in Syria, Libya and Yemen. Alas, sometimes mayhem recedes and the population gains bearable poverty without securing LoW blessing.

M5 alone is not enough, but other ingredients of normal life may follow. For example, Syria is prevented from importing fuel, and from extracting oil and gas of its own (it was self-sufficient with some surplus before the war). I do not understand why, Russia should be able to provide oil, like they provide wheat (and gasoline?) to Venezuela. From some scraps of information, I deduce that EU+USA made some severe sanction threats, perhaps some invisible "red lines". There was an article many months ago that a company based in Crimea can transport fuels to Syria (crude, gasoline etc.) but I know nothing more, and there is a severe shortage in Syria. Nevertheless, as Russia has a stake in Syria having a measure of success, one can expect more.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 14:31 utc | 208

Sorry for multiple typos.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 14:34 utc | 209

@Piotr Berman | 202

Thanks for the Chulov link. ))))))
Clearly he struggles without strict Foreign Office guidelines on how to 'name' actors and 'frame' events.
Chulov, Tisdall and Black … Scum

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 14 2020 15:06 utc | 210

Jihadists where pried from the bulk of their lowland territories, but they survive in the hills, although with reduced morale. Here is a link to one of those hills:

https://thehill.com/opinion/international/482942-syria-is-not-a-lost-cause-for-the-us-but-it-is-getting-close

A quote:

We should share intelligence on Syria with Turkey and lead a diplomatic effort to build an international coalition that supports and legitimates Turkey's efforts to halt the Assad regime’s advance. Moreover, Washington should warn Russia that any attacks on Turkish positions will lead to new sanctions under the recently signed CAESAR act. Of course, any U.S. or Turkish forces coming under direct attack will retain the right to defend themselves (as U.S. forces did two years ago, with devastating effect, when mercenaries from Russia's Wagner Group showed hostile intent against a U.S. position in the east).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 15:39 utc | 211

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 14 2020 15:39 utc | 211

Re face saving babble in The Hill, I get the feeling he is just saying something to be saying something. Not trying to say anything in particular, just lets keep that confident look. Needs Monty Python to give it proper treatment.

Posted by: Bemildred | Feb 14 2020 17:48 utc | 212

Recently I have been wondering whatever happened to the thousands of professional class Turks who were fired and imprisoned after the 2016 coup d'etat attempt. Here is an interesting report from DW. I don't know how accurate it is; I suspect it is close to the truth.

Mass firings in Turkey: 'We have been given a social death sentence'


Some 134,000 people were fired after Turkey's failed coup in 2016. Most are still jobless, forced to fight for healthcare and retirement benefits, and many suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For decades, those in the Gulen movement held high-level government posts. They ran schools, unions and banks. Today the government treats those with accounts at such banks or children attending such schools as terror suspects.

Pure speculation: morale both civilian and military must be rather poor. Hollowing out of important institutions will have a long term impact. If Erdy doesn't follow orders, it won't take much for Uncle Sam to unleash chaos on Turkey. Dark days ahead for Turkish workers, like nearly everywhere else.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 14 2020 18:14 utc | 213

If the translation is correct, this is hysterical:

Ali @CoolHuh_ - 16:30 UTC · Feb 14, 2020

Today another US patrol tried to cross an SAA checkpoint but was stopped & turned around.

US commander tells the Syrian officer "we are here to bring peace just like the Russians" , Syrian officer replied " Wherever US goes it brings death& destruction, u are not welcomed here"

(video)

Posted by: S | Feb 14 2020 21:20 utc | 214

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 14 2020 18:14 utc | 213

Well it's an interesting question, the extent to which Erdogan's coup-proofing has reduced the Turkish military's readiness for all out war with Syria. But I've not seen them risk it yet. All mercenaries and proxies and maybe some fire support. Russia and who knows else will be involved if they did get into it with each other, so we may never know how it would go if it was just Assad vs Erdogan, mano-a-mano. With Russia on Assad's side I don't think it would last long at all. If other people decide to jump in too, the possibilities are endless.

Posted by: Bemildred | Feb 14 2020 23:56 utc | 215

Too be sure, the day in Syria was rather unique. What follows is an update that Canthama made an hour ago:

"Back to Syria…early today we heard the turkish regime MoD saying strong words against Syria, then the Turkish Obs post at Qabtian al-Jabal, just south from Afrin canton, shot down a SAAF Mi-8 chopper, second in few days. Then the turkish military sent hundreds of soldiers and heavy equipments to the city of Atarib in an attempt to keep the 25th Special Forces Div from liberating it.

"In parallel, the 25th Special Forces Div fully secured Regiment 46, with another turkish Obs post in it, and expanded its flank protection with the combing of Urem al-Kubra, liberated yesterday and announced today.

"From Regiment 46 and rum al-Sughra, the 25th continued to probe the terrorists and their turkish master, up north-NW and took the fight to the village of Kafr Taal & Jamiat Amin, but most importantly, long range SAA artillery started to pound the cities of Ma’arrat Misrin and the city of Sarmada, this is two key cities on the Sarmada + Idlib highway, the one used by the turkish illegal occupiers.

"Further the above, RuAF attacked for the first time al Qaeda/Muslin Brotherhood HQ and ammo depot literally near the border with Turkey, it never happened before.

"Then there are news that turkish military and key terrorist groups left Atarib, yes the same Atarib the turkish military came in early in the morning, leaving Atarib, a Syrian moderats nest supposedly without their support. This news must be checked and double checked, it would be a major blow to the terrorists if the city if defenseless against the SAA.

"Just recapping, Atarib is 4-5 kms from Regiment 46, the 25th Special Forces Div advanced forces are 2-3 kms from town, then Atarib is just 8 kms from Batabo, a town by the Sarmada-Idlib highway, meaning, The SAA could cut this road and split the whole thing into two blocks leaving only backroads for the terrorists and the turks.

"Long night ahead, watch Atarib."

I couldn't find a current battle map; most are from early today and don't reflect the current situation. There are reports of heavy ordinance moving into Northwestern Aleppo in preparation for a break-out from that zone. As you can see from pics and vid, this region of Syria's gotten a good covering of snow with SAA troops now outfitted with white camo while terrorists aren't, nor are Turks. Terrorist morale is low and dropping. They're situation differs little from that of the Germans in early 1945--their defeat is certain; it's only a matter of when.

Here's a 3min vid in Russian of an open M-5 highway, the Southern portion that bypasses a Turkish OP seen in vid about halfway. Vid of Syrians at funeral for teenager killed by Outlaw US Empire forces. Do watch and read the subtitles and know the Empire has earned enemies for life and has no chance of remaining in Syria.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 15 2020 0:57 utc | 216

Below is a short Xinhuanet posting that may clarify the latest claims

"
MOSCOW, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Russian military on Friday refuted Ankara's claim that Turkish forces killed dozens of Syrian government troops in the northwestern province of Idlib.

"The statement about the shelling of the Syrian government troops by units of the Turkish Armed Forces and the losses among the Syrian military was not true," said the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria.

"Such a statement only aggravates the situation and may lead to hasty decisions that do not meet mutual interests of Russia and Turkey," it warned in a statement.

Earlier on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said 63 Syrian government troops had been killed in Idlib in a Turkish offensive, according to information from various sources.

Tensions in Idlib have flared up recently as the Syrian government forces, which are launching wide-scale offensives against the rebels in the area, exchanged fire with Turkish troops, causing multiple deaths on both sides.
"

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 15 2020 2:38 utc | 217

Turkey has given Syria an ultimatum:
Would they or is this just blowing feathers?

Turkey Vows to Drive Syrian Army Out of Idlib Unless It Leaves Province by End of February
Sputniknews

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told the country’s NTV broadcaster on Saturday that Ankara “has fulfilled its responsibilities” in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, in sync with its agreement on de-escalation zones with Moscow and Tehran.

“Some of our [military] observation posts have now fallen into areas controlled by the [Syrian] regime”, Oktay added, in an apparent reference to the posts that Turkey established in the province under the trilateral deal.

He also warned that Ankara will use military power to drive the Syrian Army out of Idlib unless it withdraws from the province by the end of February.

“The [Bashar Assad] regime must know this: if attacks on our military continue, Turkey will know no bounds [in its retaliation]. This message was clearly conveyed to Russia”, Oktay said

He spoke after the Russian Defence Ministry blamed the escalation of the situation in Idlib on Turkey’s failure to live up to its obligations on Syria.

“The real reason of the crisis in Idlib de-escalation zone is, unfortunately, the failure of our Turkish colleagues to adhere to their commitments on separating moderate opposition fighters from terrorists of Jabhat al-Nusra* and Hurras ad-Din [linked to al-Qaeda*], the Ministry said.[.]


Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 15 2020 16:49 utc | 218

Both government SAA and Turkish forces are now at each others throats.

It seems that Turkish Army forces, just like the US, have self-declared their right to occupy an external sovereign nation's territory, with no reference to the domestically elected government.

Why are these pricks not arrested for war-crimes?

Posted by: Ant. | Feb 15 2020 17:50 utc | 219

@218 So the question becomes when Turkish troops start getting bombed will Erdogan play the NATO card?

Posted by: dh | Feb 15 2020 19:01 utc | 220

dh @ 220

We will soon see. Erdogan has a change of mind. He will not wait until the end of February.
Erdogan Demands Syrian Forces Immediately Leave Idlib, Refuses to Wait Until End of Month

ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded on Saturday that Syrian government forces immediately withdrew from areas close to Turkish observation posts in Idlib, backtracking from his previous pledge to wait for the move until the end of February.

"Until the regime’s [Syrian government] forces pull out beyond the borders [of the Idlib de-escalation zone] outlined in the Sochi agreement, the problem will not be solved. If they do not leave, we will do this work without waiting until the end of February," Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul, broadcast by the NTV channel.[.]

Playing the NATO card? Doubtful.
More like playing the Pompeo card.

Question of the week: where does that leave Mr. Putin's Sochi agreement?
I note Russia's MoD has been correcting Turkey's propaganda. Now, if Erdogan is only bluffing but I am reluctant to take bets on a hot-head who is manoeuvring on two or three fronts; Syria, Libya, Cyprus and oil/gas fields in the Mediterranean

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 15 2020 19:28 utc | 221

Well if things are left as they are, Turkey will have to retreat from Syria anyway. No way the terrorists and 10k turkish troops alone, without air support, are going to prevent the Syrian Army from liberating the entire province.

So i guess in typical Erdogan tactic, when confronted with a defeat : escalate!

Posted by: redrooster | Feb 15 2020 19:42 utc | 222

Jeffery's visit to Turkey may have been successful. Also, Erdo's success against the US a while back may have gone to his head and he thinks he can pull the same stunt with Russia. His talk on Idlib now is very similar to what he was saying before invading northeast Syria.
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/202002151078324418-erdogan-demands-syrian-forces-immediately-leave-idlib-refuses-to-wait-until-end-of-month/

Map is looking good. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1M-_ymjR9xwOK7KMikOcUFSAE1ac&ll=36.2014110522933%2C37.00792376457139&z=11

Apparently a joint Kurd SAA force has started pushing south so a good chance tiger force will push north from their current positions and chop of the eastern section of jihadiland fully securing Aleppo.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 15 2020 20:03 utc | 223

SAA captures Turkish officers leading a squad of “moderate rebels”:

Y.N.M.S @ynms79797979 - 11:39 UTC · Feb 15, 2020

Turkish officers alive in the hands of the armed forces of the Syrian Arab Army
So that two Turkish officers were arrested with a number of terrorists(15), and the Turkish officers were working as leaders of armed terrorist groups in Greater Urum.(Kubra)

Posted by: S | Feb 15 2020 20:41 utc | 224

turkish solution is supposed to be a political one, as opposed to a military one...

"He asserted that the Syrian regime recently intensified its aggression because it believed in a military solution to the conflict rather than a political one."

turkey going to russia feb 17th to discuss details..

https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-delegation-to-visit-russia-for-idlib-talks-152069

turkey seems to want the ''moderate headchoppers'' to rule over a new area of turkey called idlib that erdogan is convinced is a new part of his ottoman empire...

usa is fine with it all, so long that they don't call themselves what they are - designated terrorist groups on the usa's endless list of terrorist groups for any country or region that isn't going along with the usa's concept of imperial empire..

Posted by: james | Feb 15 2020 20:57 utc | 225

@james | 225
spot on. although the area extends well beyond Idlib.
And let's face it, no one is surprised.
This is why, I think, we see such a resolute Russian stance in defence of Syria's actions.
It may also be why we are seeing articles in which the west is clearly trying to extricate itself from the Idlib situation and scapegoat Turkey once again.

Posted by: Eogr68500 | Feb 15 2020 21:33 utc | 226

Erdy's invasion of Syria is getting expensive in a hurry.


over the past week, Syrian Army destroyed over 20 tanks and troop carriers delivered to terrorists in Idleb by the Turkish regime.

Russia: Turkish regime continues delivering weapons to terrorists in Idleb

I wonder how long they can sustain those kind of losses without affecting their ability to make trouble.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 15 2020 22:15 utc | 227

According to Canthama's updates made during the day the Terrorists are routed and running toward the Turkish border and the Turkish military along with them! Here's his latest posted at SyrPers just a few minutes ago:

"In response to the threat from Erdoggy that the SAA should retreat and return all area liberated by blood of Syrian soldiers, the Syrian Government asked the SAA to speed up the advances and go all the way to the border with Turkey…it seems erdoggy’s game did not play well….

"1) A new front was opened…nope, not in the northern Aleppo…but southern Idlib….Rakaya and Ash-Shaykh Damis were liberated, it seems the SAA will go the full liberation of al-Zawiyah mountains, all the way to M4. The key town of Kfar Sejena and Tal Al-Nar are now surrounded from 3 sides.

"2) Up north the 25th Special Forces Div continues its progress, the 25th is right now at the southern outskirts of Karf Da’el, Bashqatin, Jamiat Azar and Al-Hawtah al-Jawaniyah, it seems these villages will be secured."

Here's his report from 5 hours ago:

"Total collapse of the turkish backed terrorists in western, Aleppo, they are running like they can, we could have vast areas liberated until tomorrow…even Anadan plains, rats are fleeing after massive losses in Mansoura and al Jazira/Rashidin 3.

"Recall I mentioned the turkish regime forces went to Atarib in the morning and left in the evening of yesterday, so today this very same force went to regiment 111 near Darat Izza, arrived in the morning to set up huge base….they are leaving now since the terrorists’ frontline against the SAA has collapse all over western Aleppo, it is no longer safe for the turks to stay in Regiment 111, they are leaving to Afrin, it may indicate the SAA will get to Regiment 111 in 1 or 2 days, the collapse is huge and may reach all the way to Bab al Hawa. Simply incredible."

The offensive from the South has begun and ought to proceed rapidly. Soon we'll see the next offensive push out from Northern Aleppo. The Turks are no match for the SAA. Reports RuAF is now using SU-57 aircraft that are essentially invulnerable to manpads. The colder weather makes the SAA's advantage in night fighting even greater because the thermal signatures stand out more prominently making it much harder to conceal yourself or vehicle. It's really no wonder the Terrorists are fleeing; they're completely outmatched and have only three choices: Surrender, die, flee. Too bad the West's politicos that started it all aren't in their ranks and being subjected to those same three choices!

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 16 2020 1:09 utc | 228

karlof1
Thanks for posting that. I didn't know about the new move in the south, but the rest is as I had thought. A lot of Russian tech and intel along with calling Erdo's bluff.
Trump and Jeffery, I think, are about to get trumped... not to mention Erdo.
Erdo seems to have painted himself into a corner. Will be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 16 2020 3:23 utc | 229

Erdogan is a Sunni islamist as well as being somewhat pragmatic, but above all so far, he has been a survivor. Will be interesting to see how he pulls out of this one after many grandious pronouncements of Turk power directed at his domestic audience.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 16 2020 3:33 utc | 230

It seems that my prediction was correct, although events may show otherwise next week: the attacks toward Atarib, ostensibly to eventually shut the only highway from Turkey to Idlib, was a ruse, while getting control of the entire western Aleppo (western part of the province, completing the control of the entire metropolitan Aleppo with ample safety margin, no artillery volleys from the jihadist into the city in the future). The cauldron closes at a steady pace, the transport routes to jihadists between Aleppo and SAA+YPG positions next to Afrin are already bottlecked to 2-3 tertiary roads through steep hills, and in a day or two the bottleneck will tighten to one road.

One problem with a road through a steep hill is that if it is cratered with a bomb, improvising a detour can be tough, and the effort nixed with another bomb. The usual strategy is not to be so nasty as long as the traffic has proper direction, in this case, from west to east, i.e. from Anandan plain and hills next to Aleppo to Idlib plain.

Controlling the entire Idlib province seems impossible at the moment. Jihadist morale and numbers deteriorated, but not completely so, while Erdoğan has made it a point of honor to defend Idlib (only Idlib). How he imagines that SAA with withdraw "from Idlib" is not for me to say, but he can collect retreat jihadist, give them hot tea from thermos bottles (a Turkish custom I admire, in any park in Istambul you can see people sitting, chatting and drinking hot tea in small Turkish glasses, refilling from thermos bottles; as a tea drinker, I fully approve). They can also expect more weapons, large and small, and food, especially tomatoes, as Turkey has some difficulties selling those that were prepared for Russia. Turks actually hope to sell more produce to Russia as Russian imports from China have to go down. OTOH, Putin must provide sufficient vitamins and other nutrients to the population, so the two leaders will not allow Syria to blot the entire picture of bilateral relations.

A Sultan saying brave inspired words against Russia, with somewhat disappointing followup, fully belongs to the Ottoman tradition, so Ottomaniac in Turkey should accept, especially if Recep I will show some measure of success. A lot more soldiers will be able to see their wives and and mothers again if there will be some compromise.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 16 2020 3:45 utc | 231

karlof1 #228

Thank you for the update. The northern front is looking good. I originally thought the SAA would go direct west but the weakness in the north west was greater than I assumed. Encircling Idlib province is a sound strategy especially if they can sever the incoming roads from Turkey. Thanks especially for the links.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 16 2020 5:15 utc | 232

Piotr Berman #231

Syrian agricultural produce is being progressively boosted as the fine agricultural land is released from jihadist control and irrigation systems reinstated. There has been a severe drought throughout the entire region for many years and I am unsure if that has ended.

Regardless I think Erdy's hopes of solid agricultural export to Russia are wishful thinking especially as he plays idiot over Turkstream AND his soldier boy/NATO gamefuckery in Syria.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 16 2020 5:57 utc | 233

Re: uncle tungsten

About Turkish produce having more prospect because of coronavirus, I read when I checked Turkish news websites. Given the state of Turkish media, it was consistent with official thinking. Surely, it is a marginal issue, but a symptom of something larger: Erdy always paid attention to economy, he is not in power merely by having a large mouth, and finding markets for produce makes farmers happier, and those are "his people". Concerning Syrian export, some of that is happening, like citrus fruit from the coastal region, I have seen one article a while ago.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 16 2020 6:26 utc | 234

It will be clearer in the coming days, but it looks like Erdy made a big mistake bringing surface to air missiles to the idlib fight. His proxies in Idlib may well get a close up view of the Russian dogs of war.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 16 2020 6:43 utc | 235

@Peter AU1 | 230

Well a war of words has just erupted between Erdogan and kilicdaroglu (leader of CHP) calling each other 'Feotcu' *Gulenist supporters) and this has taken prime news spot! If all else fails pull out the 'Feto' card and scandal shall ensue. And the opposition once again showing its willingness to 'play its part'. ))))))

May be interesting to see what will happen when TR meets RF next week. Though I don't expect any surprises because TR has literally zero support it seems.

Posted by: Egor68500 | Feb 16 2020 10:21 utc | 236

Peter AU1 #235

Yes indeed. That was the act of a mighty foolish man. Manpads are the sort of weapon that can move about mighty fast and have a habit of biting the hand. It certainly seems to have unleashed the Russian restraints.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 16 2020 11:42 utc | 237

Frozen Idlib (photo) – ten years from now, Western historians will claim that Assad only won in Idlib because of the harsh winter.

Posted by: S | Feb 16 2020 13:01 utc | 238

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