Will the battle of Idlib start while Russian task force is in the Mediterranean?

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For: American Herald Tribune

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

Russia has amassed large naval and air forces in the Mediterranean opposite the Syrian coast under the command of the Russian Navy commander Admiral Vladimir Korolov. 25 warships and 30 aircraft are involved in these extensive manoeuvres: Tu-160 bombers, Tu-142s, II38 anti-submarine, Su-33s and Su-30SMs, and other aircraft. The drill is announced to end one day after the Tehran Summit between presidents Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani, to decide the fate and outcome of the battle of Idlib. This may indicate that Russia is about to provide huge firepower for the Syrian Army offensive in the north of Syria against jihadists, thus creating a shield for the dissuasion of a possible US tactical attack against Damascus.

Sources close to the leadership command in Syria said that there is no doubt that the battle of Idlib will take place, regardless of US threats. It will be divided into several steps. The first objective is to ensure the safety of the Russian Hameymeem military base on the Syrian coast that has been subject to several armed drone attacks, carried out by al-Nusra, aka Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the ex-al Qaeda in Syria, as claimed by Russia. This makes the rural Latakia area the first objective, followed by rural Idlib. Turkey has offered substantial information which has been added to Syrian intelligence and Russian information gathering. This has created a bank of objectives against HTS, Tanzim Hurras al-Deen (THD) and all the other jihadists and foreign fighters in the city and its rural area.

According to the sources, Jisr al-Shughur, Khan Shaikhoon, Saraqeb and Sahl al-Ghab are the favourite initial objectives to be targeted by the Syrian army and Russia to dislodge and eliminate jihadists in these locations, with Turkish approval.

Turkey has classified HTS as a terrorist organisation: however, it is still trying, to date, to convince its leader Abu Mohammad al-Joulani, an ex-ISIS (ISIL/Daesh) Emir, to dissolve its group and join, with his 12 to 15,000 men, the pro-Turkish groups in the north. Turkey also asked Joulani to detach himself from all foreign fighters so that the city of Idlib can be spared the assault, since Damascus is determined to recover every inch of Syria, including Idlib.

The Turkish-Syrian relationship has moved out of its critical stage to a less aggressive phase. Indeed, Foreign Minister Waleed al-Moallem has said “Damascus is not aiming to confront Turkey”. This is the first non-aggressive statement by the Syrian authorities towards Turkey since the start of the seven years of war imposed on Syria. Even those who financed, facilitated and supported the war (i.e. Saudi Arabia) are shifting from their original positions. Moallem sent a positive signal to his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir, who had endlessly repeated throughout these years that “Assad should stand down by peaceful or by military means”. All the signs indicate that Syria is recovering and slowly coming out of the state of war, with only small pockets remaining in the north, equivalent to around a third of the country’s geography but occupied by less than 10% of the estimated total Syrian population before the war.

Moreover, Ankara confirmed to Russia its intention to pull out of Syria once a political solution is offered to those who fought against the Syrian Army and are now under Turkish mentoring. Moscow and Damascus have been informed of the Turkish intentions and appreciate its effort to facilitate the elimination of all jihadists in the north. Ankara is willing to let go of these jihadists, force them to leave or to face death.

In the middle of all these preparations, the US establishment takes every opportunity to threaten the Syrian government, taking the side of the jihadists and the city of Idlib that was once described by the US president envoy Burt McGurk as the “largest concentration of al-Qaeda since 9/11”. It is therefore unclear why the US is protecting al-Qaeda who is supposed to be considered one of its most lethal enemies.

Indeed, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “Sergei Lavrov is defending the Syrian and Russian assault on Idlib. The US see this as an escalation of an already dangerous conflict”. Pompeo has failed to take into account, yet again, the fact that Syria is a sovereign state. As such it is unwilling to keep al-Qaeda in a safe haven on its territory and it is therefore in need of eliminating the threat from these experienced ideologues and dangerous jihadists aiming to establish an Islamic Emirates where, under their rule, there would be no room for secular or other religions.

Pompeo also said that Idlib hosts “3 million Syrian refugees” whereas the head of the UN’s humanitarian task force for Syria Jan Egeland said there are “2 million in the city of which more than half are displaced persons”, including foreign fighters and their families.

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The most surprising statement was pronounced by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura, who offered to “personally escort residents of Idlib to safety” in any attack. “There is no other Idlib, where they can go…?”. What Di Mistura failed to acknowledge is that, in fact, the Syrian and Russian armies have established safe corridors used already by thousands of inhabitants but then blocked by jihadists who imprisoned any Syrians willing to reconcile with government forces or leave the city while under jihadist control. Moreover, Di Mistura didn’t clarify or state whether the UN is willing to take all jihadists, including al-Qaeda, to a safe place outside Syria. It is unclear exactly why the US and the UN are offering al-Qaeda and similar jihadists and foreign fighters either protection (by wanting to stop an attack on their stronghold) or safe passage, and to where.

Russia is determined to help Syria eradicate jihadists, as Waleed Moallem said, and to prevent these from returning home, particularly when many of these are Russian nationals: “This abcess needs to be liquidated”, said Lavrov. Moallem said “the army will try to avoid civilian casualties”. This is an impossible objective for the US: even when using precision bombs they have killed around 6,000 civilians so far in Syria and Iraq in the recent years.

US bombing against Syrian objectives is highly unlikely to change the power dynamic in the Levant. Russia is determined to stand against any US aggression against Syria, while its army is engaged in regaining control of the country and eliminating jihadists. Now it must be borne in mind that President Trump is facing an internal struggle which profoundly questions his leadership of the country. Therefore, an attack against Syria which flirts with warlike hostility against Russia may give him space to breathe for a little while. Nevertheless, no one can predict the ultimate consequences of two superpowers operating so closely with their significant military apparatus in such a small area of the Middle East. One thing, however, is predictable: Syria will regain its control over Idli.b sooner or later, come what may.

Published here: https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/syria-crisis/2458-battle-of-idlib.html

Proofread by: Maurice Brasher and C.B.

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7 thoughts on “Will the battle of Idlib start while Russian task force is in the Mediterranean?

  1. @ Eric Blair

    Your moral equivalent tirade might soothe your feelings of guilt, but it lacks moral, and otherwise, objectivity. Trying to compare “blood-soaked Assad” to CIA-created “Muslims” who eat human entrails, livers and hearts on selfies and reality TV shows for the world to see, is far from a balanced assessment of the Syrian predicament. Shia, Sunni, Christians, Yazidis, and many other minorities have coexisted in Syria for centuries, and more recently, under the Assads. Enter the “Arab Spring,” another version of the CIA/Mosad/MI5 created “color revolutions,” and Christian towns were razed to the ground, ancient monasteries destroyed, women of all religions were turned into sex slaves, men, women and children were massacred by the thousands, still being found in mass graves all over Syria (and Iraq), killed for no other reason than not following the Wahhabi dictum.

    You can’t compare the liberation of Aleppo from the Takfiris, in which Russians and Syrians used the carrot and stick approach to minimize civilian casualties, with the US-led “liberation” of Raqqa, a modern version of the US Viet-Nam experience, “had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Same with Mosul in Iraq, where the stench of dead bodies under the rubble is still unbearable. It seems very clear in your intention to “humanize” your POV, you have fallen victim to the Western propaganda, which demonizes the Syrians, Iranians, Russians, and their allies, to hide and justify their war crimes in the Middle East. Your concern for the civilian population is understandable, but if the liberation of most of Syria from the takfiris is an indicator, civilians are forced to stay and are being used as shield not just in Idlib, everywhere there are remaining pockets of takfiris.

    The first casualty of every war, besides truth, is the civilian population. That’s been the rule in the history of war. If the fate of civilians were the guide at the time of waging war, the Germans would still be in Russia, and the Japanese in China. Or everywhere else in Asia. The civilian population in Idlib is suffering under the takfiris, there are daily, credible reports of spontaneous uprisings and protests against them by civilians under their control. The option you’re proposing with your cheap “moral equivalence” is paralysis.

    Next to you, hypocritical clown Trump is also expressing concern for the civilians, as if he cares for anyone besides himself and his corrupt mafia. Syrian civilians in Idlib have suddenly become important for the entire world, when until recently no one gave a damn about them as prisoners of the takfiris. Moral equivalence is a tool used by the Israeli hasbara propagandists, to make people believe the US/Israel/NATO and the Saudi/GCC satraps, “are not that bad, look at Assad.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the hasbara have decided to pay a visit to Mr. Magnier.

    Lone Wolf

  2. Alleppo, Raqqa, Mosul, Deir Ezzor, etc.

    The maps have all shown a shrinking area of influence for the terrorist scum and an expanding swath of “liberated” territory retaken by the SAA. How can Idlib be anything different from what has come before, the final gasp of the anti-Assad forces? Like all bloodbaths before this one, they come and go. How fortunate we readers of this forum are not be be enslaved or torn limb from limb in combat. How shameful that we cannot guide our government officials to make peace rather than fan the flames for the benefit of profiteers and psychopaths.

  3. The fact remains that the battle to take back Idlib will result in thousands of civilians being killed and wounded. Westerners are fed a sanitized and completely false image of war in which American and American-led NATO wars and bombing campaigns are altruistic missions for democracy and human rights and barely a civilian life is taken. Wars and campaigns fought by countries America and its vassals consider “enemies” are conducted by uniquely bloodthirsty madmen who delight in the mass slaughter of innocents. This too is hogwash.

    The reality is when countries wage war civilians die. There is no such thing as a gentle war or a war in which only combatants are killed. That simply does not happen. What DOES happen, however, is the western media focusing on the plight of civilians only when their suffering can be exploited as propaganda against countries the US seeks to destroy or dominate. When the west and its allies are involved the killing and suffering of civilians is simply not mentioned. Yemen, Raqqa, Mosul, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya…not a peep about the carnage suffered by the people of these nations.

    Sadly, most people who take the side of whomever the Americans are demonizing also neglect to face the reality of war when their chosen heroes wage it. e.g.the mass deaths in Syria due to the bombing of densely populated urban areas is ignored while the mass deaths in Yemen due to the bombing of densely populated urban areas is met with outrage.

    The lionizing of blood soaked leaders like al-Assad whose regime has been torturing and killing dissidents real and imagined for decades and, in this war, bombing entire districts into rubble is also hypocritical. It is true that foreign based supporters of the Syrian revolution are in denial, or deliberately bending the truth, about who is doing the fighting and who they represent and their popularity among the Syrian people. The more accounts from Syria you read the more you realize all the blogosphere and media cheerleaders are making stuff up or using a very narrow lens to view the conflict. They are like sports fans cheering for their chosen team.

    Except war is not a sport and this war (in Syria) is incredibly complex and multilayered. Many Syrians in rebel held territory became profoundly disillusioned with the armed groups claiming to represent their interests. Many people in regime held territory have a choice between the devil they know and open ended uncertainty that could lead to their persecution or death at the hand of sectarian fighters. After 7 years of war Syrians want it to stop. Yes the Baathists have a record of extreme brutality but for a Syrian who stayed away from politics and activism life was at least stable and the regime did not interfere in their private lives. This is far from ideal (and if the regime continues to behave as it did before the war a rekindling of hostilities is bound to happen 3,5,10, 15 years down the road) but it beats never ending war and slaughter.

    Back to Idlib and the upcoming battle. Even if you support the Syrian government and its allies keep in mind that many people are going to die in this fight. The moment you deny this or start making excuses for why it’s “their fault” you lose part of your humanity. Since this war began in 2011 all of us who got involved in cheerleading for one of the”sides” like it’s all an abstract game lost a bit of our humanity in the process.

  4. It is high time to eradicate the Wahhabi Tyrant terrorists/trump regime/israhell/French & UK lapdogs remaining fanatics from secular Syria. They want to visit mccain in hell!!!

  5. WILL THE BATTLE OF IDLIB START WHILE THE RUSSIAN TASK FORCE IS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN?

    A pertinent question. While is clear the Russian armada is a show of force vis-a-vis the usual suspects threats to Syria, it is not yet clear what is its true purpose. Another apropos question should be, would the task force intervene to counter yet another US/Western orchestrated missile attack on Syria? If the show of force is not there to draw a red line, what are they doing, besides showing off? Russia is already planning the reconstruction of Syria, and if they allow the West/Israel to continue bombing Syria at whim, it would be a waste of money and effort.

    The Idlib operation should mark not only the end of the takfiris, but also the beginning of a serious protection of Syria’s sovereignty. As long as the Russians allow the Western powers to treat Syria like their backyard, there cannot be a real recovery in sight for the Syrian people and nation. Putin needs to show they are serious, and tell the Western maggots the bombing of Syria cannot go on. Full stop. The battle of Idlib is secondary to the setting a red line for the criminal F.U.K.U.S. (France, United Kingdom, United States) mafia. Once the takfiri pockets in Latakia have been eliminated, and the Tiger Forces start taking town after town in Idlib, cutting takfiris off supply sources and breaking Idlib into several cauldrons, the battle is over.

    In other words, the battle of Idlib has been already won militarily, before its onset, as Sun Tzu wisely counseled. What is precluding that result from happening, is the political wriggling from the F.U.K.U.S. in defense of the takfiri scum. If the battle for the last ISIS pocket in Al-Safa is a prelude of what the SAA has in store for the takfiris in Idlib, no wonder they are scared. Time is up for this scum to go meet Iblis in Idlib.

    Lone Wolf

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