The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Tiger Forces and their allies are reportedly building up their forces for a new limited operation against radical militant grouprs in the so-called Idlib de-escalation zone.
According to pro-miltiant sources, government troops have recently deployed around a dozen of new pieces of military equipment along the frontline in northwestern Hama and southern Idlib. They link this with an expected new round of agression by the “bloody Assad regime”.
At the same time, even if such an operation takes place, it will be a limited effort to supress key positions of radicals (first of all Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) that they use to shell civilian areas around the de-escalation zone.
Late on July 15, a convoy of Turkish military vehicles was seen moving inside the northern Syrian border close to Azaz. According to recent reports, reinforcements have been sent to the Syrian border area by the Turkish military.
The area of Azaz is located close to the town of Tell Rifaat, which is controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) with a minor assistance from the SAA and the Russians. Turkey sees the YPG as a major threat to its homeland security because of the YPG’s links with another Kurdish militant organization, the Kudistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In this light, Ankara has repeatedly threatened to launch a new military operation to wipe out the YPG and the PKK from the entire northern part of Syria. Tell Rifaat was named as one of the targets for such an operation.
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