On Monday, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov analyzed the state of affairs in the Syrian province of Idlib in front of journalists. According to him, the groups entrenched there regularly violate the agreement on the demilitarized zone. They are attacking the positions of the Syrian Arab army and its allied formations, as well as trying at any opportunity to attack the Russian military base Khmeimim with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles. All this, says our minister, will not remain unanswered. To be more precise, Lavrov declared “crushing retribution”. What does it mean?
Obviously, Damascus and Moscow have long been tired of the way the law has been living for Idlib over the past year. Before Erdogan arrived in Sochi and agreed with Putin about a peaceful settlement plan for the conflict in the north-west of the SAR, local gangs waged an open war against official forces and thus prevented Damascus and its allies from completing operations in other regions. They simply used their adversary’s employment and committed treachery. Then, when the government forces ended Dair Al Zor, finished Dar’a and Quneitra, the question arose of stripping Idlib. And then suddenly the terrorists lost their belligerence and turned to Turkey as a potential defender. In the end, it turned out that Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself vouched for them. Putin believed his colleague, and it was decided to preserve the conflict. However, in fact, it turned out that the terrorists simply received cover, which allowed them to continue the war with almost no punishment against the almost resisting official troops bound by the conditions of the Sochi agreement.
Moscow again became necessary to Washington in solving its own problems.
While regular attacks took place, the outraged Syrian and Russian military were forced to be content with promises from the Turkish side. However, Ankara did not cope, and Damascus, together with Moscow, were forced to start a war against the militants holding Idlib. The operation has been going on for some time, but so far it has not turned into a full-fledged offensive. But Lavrov promised “retribution”. And it was on that very same day, when he delivered his speech, from Idlib and other parts of Syria, information about a massive air strike on a rebellious governorate began to be heard. It reported dozens of dead, a large number of destroyed buildings, and all this is attributed to the Russian HVAC. Perhaps this is the beginning of retribution?
Russian military expert Alexei Leonkov believes that the timing of a full-scale operation against the militants is directly dependent on the activity of the latter. According to him, in the next few months a working paper can be developed, after which the operation will begin.
- Regarding the statements of Lavrov. As usual in Russia, it happens – they make them long for a while, and then they chase very quickly. That is, there is such a situation – Moscow repeatedly warned everyone, called for compliance with the agreement on the demilitarized zone, but no one listened. Here, by the way, American advisers played a very important role. Thanks to the representatives of the US special services, the situation is now heating up. It is clear that for a long time the Russian side does not intend to endure arbitrariness on their part, because both the Syrian military personnel and our reputation suffer from this. Russia is a country that actually led Syria to peace, and now it has to endure all sorts of provocations that harm both our status and the state of affairs in the recovering Arab Republic. In principle, Moscow seeks to ensure that Idlib in the first place became a zone free from terrorism. And in the hope of organizing everything peacefully, Idlib was relegated to Turkey so that it would restore order there. As we see, Ankara does not cope – civilians are dying, the Syrian military are dying. In general, the patience will soon end, and, most likely, the operation will begin, which has long been brewing.
– On Monday, it was also reported on striking Russian aircraft in the province of Idlib. Reportedly, at least 25 dead. Could this have something to do with Lavrov’s words?
– You can say the following: the one who does not want to talk to Lavrov will talk to Shoygu. When diplomacy does not help, the military begin to act. Militants entrenched in Idlib, as we see, are not inclined to diplomacy, and most likely they will have to be tamed by a military operation. When it starts, it will be reported to the Ministry of Defense.
- What about the participation of Turkey?
Now, probably, there are active consultations with the Turkish side in order to clarify in detail their position on this issue. We do not intend to tolerate endless provocations and attacks by militants, who just bypass the numerous Turkish roadblocks. In my opinion, Ankara, most likely, recognizes the correctness of the Russian side, which is also supported in its opinion by the Syrians and Iranians. And it will allow to complete the operation on the stripping of the SAR from the militants.
– How will this operation take place? Who will take part in it?
- On the ground, all operations will be performed by the Syrian Arab army with the support of the Iranian troops of the IRGC. And from the air they will be supported by the Russian aerospace forces.
– Earlier you mentioned that the Turkish military can take part in this operation. Do you still think so?
– Yes, it is quite realistic, because the Turks will have, first, to restrain the flow of refugees. And if you filter militants from civilians directly in Idlib, it will be much better. In addition, we must understand that in the event of an attack, the militants will not run towards the Syrian army, but they will retreat to the Turkish borders. Therefore, one way or another, Ankara has its advantages from participating in this operation.
– In what time it can all start?
- I think that consultations will end within one or two months, and after that the operation can begin. But I will note that forecasts are a thankless task, because everything can change at any time.