Turkish Central Military Command and reinforcements to predict what is ahead of Syria’s Idlib

The  Fifth graduation session of the Special Forces Forces of the “National Front for Liberation” - 30 July 2020 (Azaaeem)

The  Fifth graduation session of the Special Forces Forces of the “National Front for Liberation” - 30 July 2020 (Azaaeem)


Enab Baladi – Ali Darwish

The Syrian regime forces, backed by the Russian Special Forces, from time to time carry out bombardments and infiltration operations. However, most of them end in failure and do not establish any control on the ground.  

This has been the case in northwestern Syria, which has been subjected to the Moscow agreement between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, which provided for a ceasefire, joint patrols between the two parties and entered into force on 6 March 2020. 

The opposition-held areas have been under attacks from Russian warplanes and the regime’s artillery fires since 3 August, which resulted in the deaths of three civilians from the same family and the injury of others. This was considered one of the Syrian regime’s violations of the agreement, which exceeded 1,500 as of July 24, as documented by the “Syria Response Coordination Group (SRCG).”

However, the most prominent event coinciding with the bombing is the repeated attacks and shelling of Tell al-Haddadah in the so-called Kurd Mountains in rural Latakia. The Syrian regime forces tried many times to advance and take back control of Latakia countryside through infiltrations on the axes of “Jabal al-Zawiya,” south of Idlib, the official spokesperson of the National Front for Liberation (NFL), Captain Naji Mustafa told Enab Baladi

The Syrian regime prepping to attack while the opposition finalizing preparations

A military field commander in the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA), who asked not to be named, explained to Enab Baladi that the reinforcements of the opposition factions on the lines of contact began on 3 August and completed about 70 percent of their preparation to repel any attack.

He indicated that some safety measures including digging tunnels and constructing military fortifications have been taken to reduce the impact of the airstrikes, which constitute a permanent obstacle to the opposition because it does not have any anti-aircraft weapons.

The Syrian regime’s military airports: “Kuweires,” “Hama” and “al-Nayrab” have seen training and trial flights for helicopters and warplanes in the past few days, according to the “Sheikh Ahmed” observatory, which specializes in monitoring military aircraft movements. 

The Syrian regime’s aircraft take-off activity indicates that the Syrian regime is about to launch a military operation in the region as reported by the observatory. 

The Syrian regime has also brought in further reinforcements to the seams in recent weeks, enabling it to launch a military operation in the region, and it is currently developing an integrated combat readiness of up to 90 percent, according to the military field commander in the opposition forces.

On the other hand, the opposition factions prepared plans to launch a counteroffensive against the regime’s sites, in the event of any real attack.

Military analyst Colonel Ahmed Hamadi said, in an interview with Enab Baladi, that there are signals that the Russians are trying to back out of the “Moscow” agreement, as usual. The Russians are not following up on patrols, not putting pressure on “Iranian and al-Assad militias” in order to stick to the agreement in addition to their participation in bombing.

But so far, we cannot say that the military operations on the opposition-held areas have begun, according to Colonel Ahmed Hamadi, because this stage is preceded by the intensification of contacts for calm with Turkey.

Turkish Central Military Command to coordinate military operations in Syria

Turkey has established a Turkish Central Military Command to coordinate military operations in Syria, called “the Military Command for Operation Peace Shield (MC-OPS)” based in the city of Antakya, southern Turkey, near the Syrian border. 

The command will be responsible for the areas controlled by the Turkish army along with the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition factions, during their battles against the so-called Islamic State and the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), as reported by the Turkish newspaper, Yeni Şafak, on 8 August. 

Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) appointed Major General Hakan Öztekin as head of the Central Command. The Turkish forces are reinforced by the “Maronite Hat”, which consists of elite soldiers of various classes and ranks, who undergo high-level combat training that enables them to serve in all terrains and climatic conditions to eliminate internal and external threats.

It was noted that officers, especially commando officers who have the best knowledge of the battlefield in Syria and in the brigades and divisions were appointed in the “Supreme Military Council”, while preserving the command of the Turkish forces operating in the field within the sensitive areas such as the Syrian-Turkish border cities: Hatay and Şanlıurfa, according to the newspaper.

Turkey directly supports the opposition military factions, and it has a large number of weapons, equipment, and elements inside the Syrian territories. So, it will play a role in any breach or battle, according to the SNA leader, Abdul Salam Abdul Razzaq.

Captain Abdul Razzaq told Enab Baladi, “Perhaps the battle is coming. If this political stand-off remains, neither solution nor war will last for long.”

According to an NFL military commander, the leaders of the first row in the SNA met last July, with Turkish officers to discuss the formation of a new military body, without further providing further clarifications regarding the formation mechanism.

The source told Enab Baladi that the merger project is not new, but rather Turkey has worked on it over the past months, confirming that there is seriousness at the present time for reaching an agreement between the military parties.

Meetings took place between the various parties, including factions, formations, officers, and opposition political parties, according to Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razzaq. However, it is not possible to talk about anything new unless real steps are taken on the ground.

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