Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 28 October 2020
Russia Provokes Turkey In Syria’s Idlib
Russian aircraft have carried out a strike – the bloodiest surge in violence – in the stronghold of Syria’s rebel forces, also targeting rebel proxies siding with Turkey. What Russia has done might prompt the escalation in Syria’s Idlib. Perhaps Russia seeks to get upsides with Turkey over the latter’s involvement in the Azerbaijan-Armenia fighting.
Rebel groups promised Russia to take revenge on the airstrikes that killed 78 insurgents. Following the Russian airstrike, the rebels slaughtered at least fifteen supporters of Bashar al-Assad. On October 26, more than 78 people were killed and 90 wounded when Russian warplanes targeted a training camp of the Faylaq al-Sham faction in the Jabal Duwayli area in the town of Kafr Taharim, some 10 kilometers far from the Turkish border. Failaq al-Sham is a Sunni Islamist faction whose members fight in the Turkish military offensive in Syria and are also believed to be present in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. The National Liberation Front, an umbrella group of Ankara-backed rebels based in Idlib that includes Faylaq al-Sham, says it seeks revenge. NLF spokesman has accused Moscow of violating the ceasefire deal. Also, Damascus-loyal militias shelled rebel position in southern Idlib and neighboring Hama province. The strikes were the deadliest since the Russian-Turkey ceasefire in northwestern Syria came into force nearly eight months ago. It halted the offensive by forces loyal to al-Assad and Russian aircraft against the last rebel-held enclave in Syria. The opposition forces currently control roughly half of Idlib province as well as some small areas in neighboring Hama and Aleppo. The jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the dominant faction in Idlib province, encompasses Islamist insurgents led by the former Syrian leg of al-Qaeda. Another Jihadi group is an al-Qaeda affiliate, Hurras al-Din. In turn, Turkey has for years helped far more moderate factions. When hammering out the truce deal, Moscow and Ankara agreed on to deploy military outposts throughout the enclave. A few days before the Russian airstrike against the training camp, Turkey evacuated one of its biggest observation stations that had been encircled by Syrian government forces. The outpost in Morek is in Hama province, right to Idlib. Perhaps Turkey assumes a joint offensive from Damascus and Moscow.
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