By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s that time again. Jihadist forces have pushed Damascus’ and Moscow’s patience for too long. These constant provocations have gone too far and it’s time to punish them for their insolence. Damascus and Moscow are gearing up to deal with those damned terrorists again as the Russian Air Force has been flying sorties over the Idlib province, with Ankara’s approval. The Syrian Army’s Russian trained 5th corps, the 4th armoured division and the legendary Tiger Forces have all amassed near the Idlib-Hama border this past week. Something is definitely brewing up.
The so called Demilitarized zone has failed as the terrorist forces of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) have taken over all the positions from the other “rebel groups”. As observers may already know, HTS is not included in any reconciliation or ceasefire deal as they are considered to be terrorists by both Moscow and Ankara. Now it remains to see how Washington, the main benefactor of these terrorists, will react. So far they have remained surprisingly quiet over these recent movements by Damascus and Moscow, but I am willing to bet that they will do their utmost to stop this planned offensive.
It is of absolute importance that this offensive commences this time and that nothing stops the Syrian Army and their allies, not even Washington’s threats. The Resistance Axis must show no fear in face of Washington’s threats. For how long will Moscow remain patient over the constant threat to the Hmaimeem airport? For how long will these terrorists be allowed to terrorize the Idlib province and its population?
It should be noted that this offensive will probably only be limited to the demilitarized zone where the goal will be to clear the area of HTS terrorists. It will be far from a decisive battle that destroys HTS, but it is an important step. The threat to northern Hama and Latakia must be diminished. The offensive will likely also target the crucial town of Jisr Al-Shughour where the Syrian Army in the spring of 2015 bravely fought and held out for over 60 days in the towns hospital before the few survivors managed to evacuate back to Syrian Army lines.
The tragedy at Jisr Al-Shughour’s National Hospital will surely not have been forgotten by the SAA. Ankara would do well to realize that if it wants to save the Idlib deal it must accept that HTS must be dealt with, otherwise this deal is a failure and Syria and her allies should explore the option of widening the offensive to cover all of West Aleppo and southern Idlib.
These next few weeks will tell us more on how this situation will develop.
May God be with the heroic Syrian Army.
ADDENDUM: SOUTHFRON'T SITREP ON IDLIB OPS
On March 13, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces delivered a series of airstrikes on infrastructure of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the city of Idlib and in its southeastern countryisde. According to reports, at least 16 strikes hit weapon depots, HQs and a jail belonging to the terrorist group.
Opposition sources said that hundreds of prisoners, including dozens persons allegedly linked with the Syrian and Russian intelligence managed to escape the prison after the airstrike. Hayat Tahir al-Sham responded with a wide-scale security operation to trace and capture these people. This operation is still ongoing with varying results.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the strikes in Idlib and said that they were coordinated with Turkey. According to the Russian side, the strikes hit depots in which the terrorist group was storing armed unnamed aerial vehicles. The eliminated UAVs were reportedly prepared for an attack on Russia’s Hmeimim airbase.
Despite comments about the coordination with Turkey, in the following days Turkish pro-government and state media released multiple reports accusing the Russians and the Assad government of causing casualties in Idlib.
On March 13, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that they had uncovered an alleged Hezbollah network in the Golan Heights. The network named by the IDF as “the Golan File” was reportedly led by Hezbollah operative Ali Musa Daqduq on the Syrian side of the contact line in order to prepare attacks on Israel.
The IDF stressed that Daqduq has been a Hezbollah member since 1983. During this period, he reportedly occupied various important posts and was even involved in an attack on a US military base in Iraq’s Karbala in 2007.
The IDF described the alleged Hezbollah network as a serious threat and threatened both Damascus and the Lebanese party with consequences.
On the same day, Israel’s ImageSat International released satellite images showing an alleged Iranian missile compound in Syria. The missiles manufacturing site is reportedly located in Safita.
Regardless of real facts besides these claims, this series of reports looks as a coordinated media campaign. According to experts, its main goal is to justify further Israeli military actions against supposed Iranian targets in Syria and to continue the militarization of the occupied Golan Heights.
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