On March 8, units of the Turkish Army started patrols in the Idlib demilitarized zone established in western Syria, mostly in northern Hama and southwestern Idlib. The move was promoted as a major step towards the de-escalation and was supposed to put an end to daily ceasefire violatinos in the area. Furthermore, some sources reported that soon Turkish forces will prople a long-awaited reopening of the M5 highway establishing a road between Hama and Aleppo.
Nothing of these has happened.
Immidiatelly after the first Turkish patrol, the so-called opposition, mainly Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Jaysh al-Izza and the Turkistan Islamic Party, resumed attacks on Syrian Army positions along the constant line. They even shelled towns and civilian areas deep inside the government-controlled area.
This situation once again showed that the de-escalation in the Idlib province and nearby areas remains hardly possible while “opposition groups” like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies remain undefeated.
A brief overview of the recent developments in the area:
- Pro-militant sources claim that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham raided several government-linked “cells” in Idlib city;
- Clashes between militants and pro-government forces were reported in the Research Center and the Lirmun district in the Aleppo countryside;
- The M5 highway remained closed despite previous claims that Turkish forces are going to work to propel its reopening;
- The Turkish Army conducted patrols in the demilitarized zone in northern Hama and southeastern Idlib. Despite this, ceasefire violations continue;
- Government forces reportedly shelled the militant-held town of Kafrniji;
- Two civilians were reportedly killed in an artillery strike by government forces on the village of Telmans;
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- Military Operation In Idlib Demilitarized Zone Is Only Real Measure To Propel Reconciliation Process In Northwestern Syria?