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The Current Conflict In Syria

Discussion in 'Geostrategic Issues' started by kurama, Jan 12, 2018.

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  1. Pentaprism

    Pentaprism New Member

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    SAA making plenty of progress in Idlib albeit with some setbacks (Khan Touman being retaken by the Rebels)

    Syria Archives ⋆ AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

    Apart from Saraquip, which looks likely to fall to the SAA in the near future, and the City of Idlib itself there doesn't appear to be many major population centres for the SAA to recapture. What happens to the opposition after the remaining Settlements fall, do they retreat into the Mountains and become a Guerilla Force, get wiped out completely, run over the border and hide? Or will Turkey move in troops to support them?

    Erdogan is visibly unhappy with the course of events and is has stated his patience is running out

    Erdoğan says Astana process collapsed, it should be revived

    The opposition appear to be on their last legs but I sense Assads' enemies are desperate to keep at least some core of resistance in action so they can be mobilised some time later if the opportunity arises.

    2 or 3 of the Turkish Observation Posts have already been isolated and there could be more soon.

    So is there anything Erdogan can do to stop the SAA snuffing out the Syrian Opposition and if so what?

    On the other side of the Country the Syrians have been blocking the Americans and the Americans have blocked the Russians. So far everything seems pretty civilised but again hard to predict where it goes from here? Will the Syrians try to block their access to the Syrian Border at some point? After all it is their Country. And if they did what would the USA do? Just call in the Air Force and blow them away? Get Israel to do it?
     
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  2. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry, I haven't had time for a proper update in a while. I will aim to put out a big one today, with info from the past couple of weeks on the serious advances in Idlib and the stand offs between US and Russian patrols in the north-east.
     
  3. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Update.

    The SAA has broken rebel lines in Idlib, and is advancing fairly rapidly along the Hama-Aleppo road. The major rebel town of Maraat-an-Numana has fallen, and with it the defense line seems to have collapsed.

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5603398.html
    Wall
    Маарат-ан-Нуман взят
    Наступление в Идлибе. 27.01.2020
    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5593725.html

    Apparently in response, a column of Turkish armor has crossed the border into Idlib. It's unclear what this means, as several Turkish LP/OPs have already been engulfed by the advanced Syrian forces without combat.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1318122

    An Iveco Lynx MRAP in Russian service, in Syria, with anti-riot protection installed, due to the incidents of Kurdish civilians throwing rocks.

    https://shushpanzer-ru.livejournal.com/3291922.html

    A Tahrar-Ash-Sham heavy IFV on the T-55 chassis was captured in Idlib.

    https://shushpanzer-ru.livejournal.com/3290109.html

    A couple of photos of destroyed up-armored Land Cruiser vehicles.

    https://shushpanzer-ru.livejournal.com/3291441.html

    An interesting photo of an allegedly Kurdish MT-LB with a mine trawl. I think that the vehicle is woefully underarmored for clearing minefields during an offensive against a fortified position (though given shortages of armor, it's possible that such usage was envisioned), and is perhaps better suited to being the lead vehicle in a convoy. I'm unsure if the Syrian Kurds run sufficient convoy operations in mine-danger areas to justify this.

    https://shushpanzer-ru.livejournal.com/3291068.html

    In the meantime, on the other end of the country, Russian and US patrols have run into each other repeatedly, with some sources reporting that the US forces blocked the road to prevent Russian forces from passing. US patrols have been seen repeatedly near Haseke. Following the encounter, Russian helicopters have been seen accompanying Russian patrols.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1315703
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1315678
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1317169
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1309123
    https://t.me/milinfolive/58452
    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5582612.html

    Also there are reports of more tanks being seen on Russian ships crossing the Bosphorus.

    https://afirsov.livejournal.com/516805.html

    There are persistent but unsubstantiated reports that the Turks and Syrians are on the brink of resuming official diplomatic contacts. If this happens it would be the continuation of a running trend in the continued international resumption of relations with Assad and his government.

    Reportedly a Syrian general and a major Turkish intelligence chief met in Moscow.

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5578945.html
    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5564708.html

    Photos of a column of allegedly 40 Russian military vehicles near Qamishli.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1310221

    The Syrian MoD reports an Israeli strike against T-4 airbase.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1309474

    Reportedly, the SAA has lost 2493 armored vehicles to date.

    http://gurkhan.blogspot.com/2020/01/2493.html

    FSA police trained for work in northern Syria by Turkey are beginning patrols in Tel Abyad.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1308016

    Russo-Turkish patrols are continuing in northern Syria. Russian helos are supporting the patrols.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1308126
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1308758

    An interesting Syrian BMP-1 mod, with a 30mm gun, the 2A72, installed.

    https://shushpanzer-ru.livejournal.com/3281352.html

    Russian Ural-VV MRAPs have been spotted in Syria. The type is usually used by the MVD, but, it's unclear whether the operators are MVD or MoD. If the latter, this may signify the induction of the type for MoD service.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?z=photo-123538639_457435410/album-123538639_00/rev
     
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  4. Pentaprism

    Pentaprism New Member

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    Erdogan using more explicit threats to intervene in Idlib

    Erdogan warns of 'military force' against Syria amid Idlib exodus

    The problem Syria has is the Russians agreed to allow the Turks to establish about a dozen "Observation Posts". This gives the Turks an excuse to roll assets into Idlib and opportunities to resupply their Allies with some of those assets. Or the Soldiers can obviously just be ordered to attack the SAA if need be. Interestingly new observation posts are being set up (who agreed to this?)

    The problem Turkey has is Russia controls the skys. If the Turks look like changing the momentum on the ground the Russians can just tell the Syrians to bomb the Turks - hardly unreasonable given they are the invaders, albeit with tacit permission from their main ally.

    Russia in my opinion is the best Strategist in the game so I am sure they will think of something more favourable than allowing Syria and Turkey to go toe to toe with Russia caught in between. But I fail to see a win-win solution here, Assad is close to finishing the War and Turkey has invested a lot in finishing Assad. Something has to give.
     
  5. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm confused. Why would Turkey need excuses? They march trained fighters into Syria with no problems, and supply whoever they want through a border only they control.

    Russian "control" of the sky is fairly tenuous. Russia might win a few skirmishes in the air, but not a real air war. Compare the Turkish AF and the Russian deployment to Khmeimeem. They've never had two full fighter squadron there. The most was ~20 jets, and that's including Su-34s. The real issue is that Turkey has learned the hard way that Russia has more then one card to play. Remember, after the shootdown of a Russian jet everyone was expecting and fearing a strong-armed military response. Instead the response was political and economic, and hurt the Turks to the tune of billions of dollars in lost tourism revenue, construction contracts, and sanctions against Turkish goods. Turkey has major strategic projects together with Russia including gas pipelines and nuclear powerplant construction. How willing are they to forfeit that to a war against Russia over Syrian back-woods? Especially if Russia isn't issuing ultimatums but instead is willing to engage in horse trading.

    Turkey has already "given". They are no longer looking to finish Assad. They want a sphere of influence in northern Syria, but the problem is that they can't control Idlib. They had a deal with Russia where Idlib would remain under control of rebels and Turkish proxies, if the Turks can guarantee that the rebels will respect the ceasefire, and re-open regular traffic on the Hama-Aleppo road. Turkey has failed to deliver, because they face opposition from groups like Al-Nusra and are unwilling to fight those groups openly. If they're not willing to fight groups like al-Nusra openly, how likely are they to go to full on war with Syria and Russia?
     
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  6. Pentaprism

    Pentaprism New Member

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    @Feanor

    I was referring to "excuses" in the Political sense. Turkey has total control of the Border but southern/central Idlib is contested and fluid. Turkish Military can (and apparently have previously) come under Syrian fire. Sorry can't find the link.

    Meanwhile Turkey is pouring in more Assets

    Large Turkish military convoys enter Syria as Ankara-Moscow tensions rise

    As you point out Russia has better soft options than Military options. Both sides will prefer to de-escalate. But at the moment the momentum is in the direction of Escalation.

    Agree Turkish Airforce is far more substantial than what Russia and Syria have in Syria. But both have the S-400/S300 systems installed. Russia can reinforce their Airforce pretty quick. So Russia could give Syria the green light to attack the Turkish Convoys which would put the Turks in a hard place, their Airforce would have to invade Syrian skies and risk coming under fire from all Syrian & Russian Assets. NATO may or may not join with Turkey.

    Situation is coming to a head.
     
  7. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    Don’t see why NATO would want to defend Turkish forces in Syria. Turkey is the aggressor regardless of NATO’s distaste for Assad. Besides Erdogan isn’t exactly on the the favourite list these days.
     
  8. Pentaprism

    Pentaprism New Member

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    Yeah I'm not sure how the NATO doctrine of if you attack one of us you attack us all would be applied in this case. As you say there would be little will to defend Turkey atm by other NATO members. I'm certainly not expecting anything as dramatic as a Nato v Russia/Syria confrontation.

    But Erdogan clearly wants some kind of win in this struggle and I'm not sure how that is going to be accommodated when Syria and Russia want to end it asap.
     
  9. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    NATO wasn't willing to jump to Turkey's defense last time. I recall reading that after a meeting of NATO countries' MinDefs they issued a statement to the effect that they would not be going to war with Russia is Turkey comes to blows with Russia in Syria.

    EDIT: You guys seem to think that Turkey has all the room for maneuver in the world. They don't. They've taken a specific path in this conflict, one that has gotten them some of the things they want, but has put them at odds with the US, has put a serious cold streak between them and NATO, and has placed them in a vulnerable position vis-a-vis Russia. They have to count on 1) Russia respecting the letter and spirit of their fluid arrangements 2) their own ability to deliver on the behavior of the Syrian rebels and 3) that their various conflicts with Greece, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Kurds, and even diplomatic head-butting in the US don't produce an unmanageable confluence of circumstances. The Turks will put up a strong showing when they are displeased, and might even cause some local clashes or provocations but if it gets serious, there will be a de-escalation followed by closed-doors diplomacy similar to what took place between Israel and Russia after the downing of the Il-20.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
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  10. Pentaprism

    Pentaprism New Member

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    Well the local clashes and provocations seem to have started;

    Syrian government shelling kills four Turkish soldiers in Idlib

    For me the interesting point was that Russia's and Turkey's statements completely contradicted each other;

    Russia - "Turkish air force planes did not violate Syria's border and no attacks on Syrian troops were recorded, it added"

    Turkey - "And, as we speak, our air defences and warplanes are carrying out their respective operations. Erdogan claimed that the counterfire killed between 30 and 35 Syrian troops".

    Somebody is trying hard to save face.
     
  11. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, the exchange of pleasantries seems to have gone as follows; rebels mortared a Syrian army position, and 4 Russian FSB SpN officers died . A Syrian artillery strike killed 5 and wounded 7 Turkish military personnel (other sources say killing 6 and wounding 8), allegedly because the Turks did not communicate their location to Russia. The Turks responded with artillery and/or airstrikes, hitting multiple SAA targets, there are also reports of Turkish helos flying in, presumably medevacs. Allegedly the Turks have conducted a number of artillery and mortar strikes, killing either 0 or 35 Syrian soldiers, depending on who you believe. Russian sources deny Turkish aircraft were involved.

    В Сирии при обстреле погибли пятеро турецких военных
    СМИ сообщили о гибели четырех офицеров ФСБ в Сирии
    Обострение ситуации в Сирии: серьезные потери ЦСН ФСБ, сирийской и турецкой армии
    Погибшие под Саракибом
    Российские военные опровергли информацию о турецких авиаударах в Сирии

    While all this fun is going on, the SAA is continuing it's advance, and has reached the Aleppo-Latakia highway. These are significant inroads, that drastically reduce the area of control for the Syrian rebels.

    Коротко по Сирии. 02.02.2020
    Трасса Алеппо-Латакия перерезана

    Another large Turkish convoy with M-60s and light armor has been spotted entering Idlib.

    Wall

    ATGM attacks on Syrian armor have increased, as expected, during this offensive.

    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4475415.html
    http://gurkhan.blogspot.com/2020/02/90_3.html

    And it looks like the rebels have captured a vintage '92 T-90 tank in the recent fighting.

    http://gurkhan.blogspot.com/2020/02/90-1992.html

    A Russian Ural-VV MRAP continues to ride around Syria, accompanying humanitarian missions, and leading me to suspect that the forces in question are MVD rather then MoD.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?z=photo-123538639_457439043/album-123538639_00/rev

    Some footage of Syrian guntrucks near Idlib.

    https://shusharmor.livejournal.com/969830.html

    And the Turks have failed to appear for a scheduled bi-lateral patrol near Kobani, leaving Russian MPs to conduct the patrol independently.

    http://classic.newsru.com/world/03feb2020/patrolsyria.html

    To be perfectly honest, this is already a bigger escalation then I would have expected, and I suspect it stems from the Russo-Syrian grab of the strategic highway intersection between Aleppo, Idlib, and Latakia. We should see some sort of emergency meeting between Russian and Turkish officials.
     
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  12. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    There are uncofirmed reports of Russian and US service members almost coming to blows in a confrontation on the M-4 highway in northern Syria. It appears to stem from US forces blocking the highway. Allegedly Kurdish SDF personnel had to get involved to de-escalate the situation. I can't help but wonder, how long before there is an incident between US and Russian troops?

    Конфликт военных России и США в Сирии
    Пробки на дорогах

    Also, it appears the escalation between Russia and Turkey is drawing to a close. The rebels are evacuating Saraqib, to avoid encirclement. In the meantime, Putin and Erdogan remain committed to the Sochi deal, and de-escalation will likely be discussed directly between respective militaries.

    In the meantime the US has join in condemning the offensive in Idlib.

    Боевики оставляют Саракиб
    Коротко по Сирии 05.02.2020
    Вашингтон поддержал Турцию и обвинил РФ, Сирию и Иран в нападении на Идлиб

    Another shot of a Syrian guntruck.

    Тем временем в где-то в Сирии

    And a Syrian guntruck destroyed by a missile.

    Wall

    Russian Su-34 and Su-24M continuing "work" in Syria.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1324835
     
  13. Pentaprism

    Pentaprism New Member

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    Seems to be heading to another escalation point. Turkey is repeatedly saying that Syria must not only halt their operation but relinquish areas they have taken by the end of the month. Can't believe this will happen without force.

    Turkey bolsters Idlib outposts as Syrian gov't forces make gains

    Turkey is moving a lot more Equipment into Idlib.

    Turkey hints at 'Plan B' if Syria regime violates Idlib deals

    Rebels are counterattacking.

    Jihadists begin large-scale offensive to retake Saraqib from Syrian Army

    More Turkish Casualties

    Turkish soldiers killed by Syrian army artillery fire near Idlib outpost

    This is getting nasty. Turkish will want to involve their Airforce. Outcome may depend on whether Russian can stop that happening by Political or Military means.
     
  14. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Updates.

    5 Turkish soldiers were killed and 5 more wounded at Taftanaz airbase. The Turks also fired on SAA positions. It's unclear who fired first, both sides are blaming each other.

    В Тафтаназе убито 5 турецких солдат

    Meanwhile the Syrian forces are finishing up their offensive along the M-5 highway. T-62Ms continue be seen, along with more traditional Syrian hardware.

    Наступление в Идлибе. 09.02.2020
    Наступление в Идлибе. 08.02.2020
    Wall

    Footage of Saraqib after it's fall to the SAA.

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5623599.html

    Turkish forces moving into Idlib.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?z=album-123538639_270438323
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1327494

    The crew of a Turkish M-60 looking at the Syrian countryside through a tank sight.

    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4497757.html

    Turkey is promising a strong answer to any destabilization in Syria.

    https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/7698911

    Russian sources are accusing Israel of an unsafe strike against targets in Damascus that put an airliner coming in for a landing in danger. It appears that a Cham Air airliner was coming in for a landing during the Israeli strike, and some sources are stating that the airliner was in the line of fire for Syrian air defense assets. To me this sounds a lot like the Israeli strike that cause the Syrians to shoot down a Russian Il-20.

    https://ria.ru/20200207/1564377280.html
    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4485686.html

    Russian and American patrols run into each other again in north-eastern Syria.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1326437

    Allegedly US-supplied munitions have been found in Syria.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1326792
    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4486026.html

    Russian troops with a 152mm Msta-B howitzer and a guided Krasnopol artillery shell.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1324066
     
  15. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The conflict is deepening. It now appears we have had at least two series of exchanges of fire between Syrian and Turkish forces. A Turkish convoy was hit by a serious artillery strike, destroying a number of vehicles. It's unclear whether this caused additional casualties or if this was the incident with 5 killed and 5 wounded. It appears that the rebels were preparing a counter offensive to retake Saraqib and this is now canceled. In the meantime SAA forces have continued their advance elsewhere. Also a Syrian Mi-24 took serious damage but made it back to base. There are also unconfirmed reports of a Turkish F-16 flying around near the Syrian border but being met by Russian aircraft. Russian airstrikes in Idlib continue.

    Тем временем в Сирии
    Коротко по Сирии. 10.02.2020
    Турция нанесла удары по 115 целям армии Сирии в ответ на обстрел своих военных

    EDIT: More photos.

    Последствия артиллерийского удара сирийской армии по турецкому наблюдательному пункту в Тафтаназ
     
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  16. ParadoxicalQ

    ParadoxicalQ New Member

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    Looks like tensions are indeed rising in North Western Syria. For a month US patrols have been blocking RU patrols just to the west of Tall Tamr and Al Qamishly. At first they were letting the Russians navigate through there checkpoints, then started intercepting RU patrols on the M-4 highway not long after they would set out. Which in turn caused traffic jams, and more uneasiness. Things seem to have got even more dicey today when agitated Syrian Civilians surrounded a US patrol at a Syrian checkpoint, resulting in an exchange of small arms fire.

    The SAA prevented today a US convoy from crossing Khirbet Amo, south Qamishli, and the villagers supported the SAA and threw stones on the US patrol which shot & killed 1 civilian. In the video, a civilian tells: "You cannot pass even if there are 100 agreements." Qamishli, Al-Hasakah Governorate - Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news and incidents today - syria.liveuamap.com

    [email protected] video shows clashes between Syrian government militants and US forces near Qamishli Qamishli, Al-Hasakah Governorate - Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news and incidents today - syria.liveuamap.com

    Then of course a Russian patrol came into the scene. Seems things have deconflicted for now, but there is so many conflict of interests in such a small area. One can hope cooler heads will continue to prevail.

    The clash that occurred between the American forces and the Syrian army today in the village of Khirbet Amo in Qamishli and Russian patrol is now on the site Qamishli, Al-Hasakah Governorate - Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news and incidents today - syria.liveuamap.com
     
  17. ParadoxicalQ

    ParadoxicalQ New Member

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    Viewpoint from Russian MP vehicle on yesterdays incident.
     
  18. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    @ParadoxicalQ We have an expectation that posters post more than one line of text. It's part of the rules.
     
  19. swerve

    swerve Super Moderator

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    North-Eastern Syria.

    AFAIK there are no US patrols in NW Syria. That's full of Turks facing off against Syrian government troops & Russians, & fighting between the government, Russians, & rebels.
     
  20. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Update.

    Negotiations in Moscow seem to have brought no resolution to the Russo-Turkish head-butting in Idlib. Turkey has consequently stated that they expect support from NATO due to the escalation in Syria.

    Угрозы "друга Реджепа"
    После боестолкновений в Сирии Турция запросила поддержки НАТО (Pogran1970)

    Consequently the Turks have backed a decisive rebel counter-offensive against Nayrab. Syrian forces are using Smerch MLRS and Tochka IRBMs, the VVS is launching air strikes. The Turks are using T-122 MLRS and T-155 howitzers to support their offensive, and some Turkish light armor has been handed over to the rebels. It also appears Turkish M-60s, upgraded, are also supporting the attack. Russian sources claim that Turkish artillery ceased fire after being located by unspecified Russian assets. So far 2 Turkish KIA and 5 WIA have been confirmed. Interestingly some of the Turkish tanks are carrying Zaslon APS (under the name Pulat). Some sources claim Turkish tanks have entered Nayrab, but it appears they haven't taken it. Given unsupressed Syrian artillery, and the work of Russian combat jets, success seems unlikely.

    Wall
    Wall
    Wall
    Wall
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1339398
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1339406
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1339539
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1339552
    https://andrei-bt.livejournal.com/1582825.html
    http://classic.newsru.com/world/20feb2020/syria.html
    http://gurkhan.blogspot.com/2020/02/blog-post_20.html
    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5652474.html
    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5652564.html
    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4544899.html

    Footage of a destroyed Turkish IFV, and many dead rebel fighters. Warning extremely graphic footage.

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5653218.html

    Some footage of the first abortive assault on Nayrab by the rebels.

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5636056.html

    Two Syrian helos were shot down, and one badly damaged over Idlib and western Aleppo provinces. MANPADS are the likely culprits, and it's noteworthy that at least one Russian jet took fire from a MANPADS on video.

    https://imp-navigator.livejournal.com/901895.html
    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4523913.html
    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4519310.html
    http://classic.newsru.com/world/11feb2020/idlib.html
    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4506450.html

    There are unconfirmed reports that the Turks have requested Patriot SAMs from the US. It's interesting how this is related to Syrian claims that Russia is keeping the Turkish airforce out of Syrian airspace.

    In the meantime Turkey has deployed advanced EW near their border.

    https://ria.ru/20200220/1565026130.html
    https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/7810123
    https://twitter.com/TSKMap/status/1227488012449304577

    Some photos of equipment captured from the rebels by the Syrians.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1340074
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1339848

    The Syrian express continues work, as Dvinnitsa-50 is headed for Tartus.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1339829

    Turkish troops continue to enter Idlib, there are now as many as 7000 in the province. This is no small force and given the collapsing rebel forces, this might be the only viable option to prevent Assad from taking all of Idlib.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1337732
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1330355
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1327930

    Meanwhile the M-5 highway is under Syrian government control. A special note, the Sochi accords required Turkey to set up a regime that would allow safe traffic movement on that highway, which they had failed to do. It's quite likely that taking this highway as part of the current offensive is diplomatically being couched in terms of Turkish failure to meet their obligations, though of course the details remain under wraps.

    Interestingly enough Turkish checkpoints are still functioning on M-5 and even allow Russian troops to pass through.

    https://afirsov.livejournal.com/522128.html
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1334686
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1334533
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1333138

    Syrian forces have also taken the Anadan bulge, pushing rebel lines back from Aleppo. Turkish-supplied IFVs are cropping up more and more, and getting destroyed left and right.

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5644315.html
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1333405
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1333569

    High pressure encounters between the US and Russia, and the US and Syria, continue in north-eastern Syria, with a US MRAP attempting to run a Russian Tigr armored car off the road. A civilian almost gets run over in the process, and the US attempted to force a Syrian checkpoint.

    Russian MoD claims that the US has killed a Syrian civilian, a teenager, in a recent encounter.

    It also appears that in at least one incident Rusisan MPs had to convince locals to stay away from a US convoy (4th link).

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5651165.html
    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4522829.html
    http://classic.newsru.com/world/12feb2020/boysyria.html
    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1331653

    A US soldier is attempting to prevent locals from tearing down a US flag near Qamishli.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1335201

    The T-90 captured by the rebels appears to still be in service.

    https://andrei-bt.livejournal.com/1578071.html

    Russian MPs in Maaret an Nuuman, a town recently taken from the rebels.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1334604

    ISIS has resurfaced near Palmyra, attacking SAA forces.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1333665

    The first Russian Tayfun 4X4 has been sighted in Syria.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1331832

    The TOS-1 (1A?) has been deployed near Aleppo.

    https://vk.com/milinfolive?w=wall-123538639_1333560

    Khmeimeem airbase came under UAV attack again, successfully downing both drones. Russian sources claim that US aircraft were acting as controllers for the drones, though evidence is lacking.

    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4505806.html
     
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