Yury Veselov, military observer,
It was expected that the Levant Liberation Committee (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as Habhat al-Nusra, a Muslim terrorist organization banned in Russia) together with other Islamic extremist groups began on a counteroffensive operation in the south of the “Idlib de-escalation zone” in the early hours of August 13. A deception operation also began in the northwest of the province.
The Syrian Air Forces and the Russian Aerospace Forces drastically augmented mass strikes on terrorists’ troops and facilities along the separation line and deep in the territory of the Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and Latakia provinces. Simultaneously, Syrian artillery augmented strikes on militants’ positions. Independent opposition sources have reported heavy losses of the enemy.
According to data obtained as a result of intercepting communications of the governmental troops by the field commanders of extremists, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Shia militia formations are engaged in repelling the enemy’s counteroffensive operation. All terrorists’ attempts to break through the defense of governmental troops are futile.
Pro-Turkish units of the former Free Syria Army are fighting against the Syrian army in the Latakia province. They are also sustaining heavy losses main thanks to strikes by Russian aviation and Syrian artillery. The Syrian Armed Forces command seeks to do as much damage to the enemy’s troops in this district as possible and to deprive Turkey of its possible ally in controlling Syria’s northern districts.
In this connection Ankara managed to secure Washington’s consent to creating a security zone in northern Syria called “peace corridor”. In line with the agreement dated August 7, 2019, the parties will soon form a joint operations center to coordinate the creation of the “peace corridor” and local authorities. Six American officers who are tasked to choose a place for the deployment of the joint operations center have arrived in the Sanliurfa province in southern Turkey.
According to information leaked to Turkish media, Ankara insists on creating its control zone that will be 32 kilometers in depth and 460 kilometers in width. In turn, the Pentagon, which is tasked to hold the negotiations, speaks for giving Turkey a strip of from 3 to 7 kilometers in depth and about 140 kilometers in width. This has remained the most painful issue between the two countries.
The parties have also allegedly agreed on how to avoid a Turkish military operation against the Kurdish People’s Self-Defense Forces, which are the USA allies and which Turkey considers as terrorists. According to unconfirmed information from the Pentagon, the Americans undertook an obligation to make the Kurds agree to storing heavy arms and hardware deep in the Syrian territory (up to 25 kilometers from the Turkish border). Moreover, there will be no Kurdish militants in the “peace corridor”. Joint Turkish-American mobile patrol unit will be controlling security there.
The American side will have 60 officers in the center. Washington is sure that if some concessions are made to Ankara, then the parties will be able to restore previously confidential relations. American political experts believe that the mutual interest of the parties in countering stronger military and political influence of Iran in Syria and the region in general could be the base for such relations.
This topic is extremely important in terms of preserving trilateral (Russia, Turkey, Iran) relations of the states guaranteeing peace in Syria. These prospects are expected to be discussed at the highest level in Ankara in September.