Syrian regime fortifies positions amid a state of military weakness
At the end of September, Enab Baladi obtained two circulars issued by the General Staff of the regime’s army, which included new military reinforcement and deployment near the lines of contact with opposition-held areas in northwestern Syria.
The first circular, signed by the Chief of the General Staff, General Abdul-Karim Mahmoud Ibrahim, obligated the military through ten procedures to reset some sites, points, and checkpoints due to a defect in them in several aspects.
The procedures included conducting a comprehensive study of the spread of combat sites, points, and checkpoints, as well as removing the scattered and weak combat points stationed in the valleys and slopes on the front border and defensive lines, as well as the dispersed and weak points in the Badia region, and the checkpoints spread within towns and amidst residential buildings.
The circular included placing advanced ambushes around military and security sites, points and barriers on potential directions of attack by “armed gangs,” and securing them with fire and between combat sites to prevent infiltration of “terrorist groups.”
In addition to preparing appropriate plans to defend and inspect combat sites, points, and barriers and conducting military and security exercises to protect and defend sites.
The circular stressed the necessity of strengthening combat sites, points, and barriers with heavy equipment and medium machine guns, distributing them correctly around the site, securing them with vision devices and means of communication, and forming a reserve force within each sector reinforced with machine-gun weapons mounted on vehicles ready to provide support in the event of any emergency situation.
The procedures also included providing the points with engineering elements to detect enemy mines and booby traps and implementing periodic tests and inspections to ensure the readiness of combat sites, points, and checkpoints, under the direct supervision of commanders, in addition to appointing commanders of sectors and combat sites from commanding officers exclusively (staff officers, branch officers, and divisions officers).
Repelling “inghimasi” attacks
The second general staff circular focused on six direct directives in response to serial operations taking place on military points near the lines of contact with opposition strongholds in northern Syria.
The directives included reconsidering the monitoring and shift system in place at all combat points and sites, command headquarters, and warehouses, as well as training the commanders of combat points and sites who are newly serving officers by entering the points and training the point commander and members on how to implement continuous monitoring and the shift rotation system for forces and units within the point.
The circular also included dividing the areas of responsibility into sectors, specifying a commander for each sector and an operations room for it, and considering all current combat points and sites, including isolated or advanced ones, as a front border for defense.
It also stressed the necessity of continuing to prepare combat positions, fortifying them engineeringly, preparing safe supply and evacuation hubs for them, inspecting and planting new minefields in several rows in their vicinity, and secretly setting up ambushes outside these points that can surprise infiltrating groups from outside the point.
The Army’s General Staff asked all combat unit commanders to explain and clarify the form and method of operation of the “terrorist groups” that they currently adopt and obligated all units on duty to carry out monitoring and rotation tasks in full field clothing, especially the helmet and shield, to avoid the groups’ attacks, especially sniper operations.
Burning contact lines
The two circulars come at a time when the areas of the southern countryside of Idlib city, the countryside of coastal Latakia city, and the western countryside of Aleppo city are witnessing military tensions and mutual bombardment between regime forces, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and other factions affiliated with them in the al-Fateh al-Mubeen operations room, which manages military operations in Idlib region.
Northern Syria is subjected to almost daily bombardment and airstrikes by Russian aircraft at an unstable rate, in conjunction with Russian drones flying over the region daily.
On September 15, news and media accounts mourned five soldiers in the regime forces after they were targeted by Tahrir al-Sham in the northern countryside of Latakia.
The HTS carried out an inghimasi (infiltration) operation on September 1 on the Jabal al-Sarraf axis in the Latakia countryside, which resulted in the killing of 18 soldiers in the regime forces and wounding others after they fled from the points, while the regime’s Ministry of Defense confirmed the killing of 16 soldiers.
|Inghimasi fighters are usually well-trained guerrilla fighters who are organized into teams and infiltrate enemy positions in order to cause as much damage as possible.|
The beginning of the escalation occurred on August 26, after the Ansar al-Tawhid faction operating in Idlib blew up a tunnel in al-Malajah area, targeting a concentration point for regime forces. Since the bombing, the al-Malajah axis has witnessed continuous clashes, and the regime is trying to advance to regain the point it lost.
The intensity of these clashes increased despite the decrease in the pace of the HTS-led inghimasi operations against the regime forces during the past four months after they recorded noticeable activity in various places behind the engagement lines in the HTS-controlled areas at the beginning of this year.
Reinforcements after a weak situation, nothing more
Regarding the regime’s desire to strengthen its military points at this time, despite the activity of inghimasi operations carried out by HTS members and in light of the presence of almost daily clashes on the contact lines, the former pilot colonel in the regime forces, Mustafa Bakour, told Enab Baladi that the inghimasi operations against regime positions that were carried out during the last period, especially the al-Malajah operation, demonstrated the weakness of the regime forces, and thus it is natural for it to try to strengthen its positions to avoid any future dangers.
Bakour told Enab Baladi that the regime’s recent demobilization of conscripts and reserves for its forces has made some military sites need to be supplemented with the number of personnel.
In light of the international, regional, and local circumstances, Colonel Pilot Mustafa Bakour does not expect any military action to take place soon on the ground.
However, the former military pilot does not rule out that the regime, Russia, and Iran will continue targeting civilians, guarding points, and headquarters with various means of arms in order to create a state of instability in northern Syria.
63 civilians killed in 747 attacks
In the latest statistics obtained by Enab Baladi from the Syrian Civil Defense, the leading rescue agency, its teams responded to 747 attacks from the beginning of the year until September 24, launched by the regime forces and Russia, and others from areas under the joint control of the regime forces and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and attacks by aircrafts, drones and explosions in northwestern Syria.
These attacks led to the killing of 63 civilians, including 11 children and six women, and more than 268 civilians were injured, including 95 children and 37 women.
In 2022, Civil Defense teams documented the killing of 165 people, including 55 children and 14 women.
The northwestern region of Syria is subject to the Moscow Agreement signed between Russia and Turkey, and military operations, including battles and the opening of fronts, have stopped since its signing on March 5, 2020, but this agreement has been subjected to repeated violations.
The Moscow Agreement states:
- A ceasefire along the confrontation line between the regime and the opposition.
- Establishing a security corridor six kilometers north of the main international highway in Idlib (M4) and six kilometers south of it, which is the road that connects the cities controlled by the Syrian regime in Aleppo and Latakia.
- Deploying joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the M4 international highway, starting on March 15 of the same year.
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