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Rumors and reports of the fateful day of a Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) ground operation in Greater Idlib are increasing with each passing day.
In response, the Turkish military has deployed reinforcements in the northwestern Syrian region. It already maintains more than 60 observation posts there.
The reinforcements, which included several T-155 Fırtına 155 mm self-propelled howitzers, were deployed to a Turkish post located on Baluon hill in the al-Zawiya Mount in the southern countryside of Idlib.
Al-Zawiya is a known stronghold of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and is a frequent target of air strikes by the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS).
On September 26th, Turkish forces were temporarily lined up Lattakia-Aleppo highway (M4), while VKS warplanes were pounding the outskirts of the town of al-Bara in southern Idlib.
The VKS has been carrying out daily air strikes on militant positions throughout Greater Idlib over the last month and prior to that as well. All of them have taken place in response to frequent ceasefire violations by the al-Qaeda affiliated factions in the region.
Turkish-backed militants in northeastern Syria opened fire on two Russian military helicopters which were patrolling over the region.
The incident was likely a response to the September 26th Russian air strikes on the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin, which claimed the lives of 11 Turkish-backed militants.
In a tit-for-tat exchange, Russian warplanes targeted a position of Turkish forces near the village of al-Dardarah to the north of Tell Tamer. The SAA also shelled the outskirts of the Turkish-occupied village.
On the previous day, the VKS conducted a series of raids on Afrin in response to an attack by Turkish-backed militants on a SAA post located to the south of the occupied area. Several militants from the al-Shamiya Front were reportedly killed.
Currently, such exchanges are becoming more frequent and it appears that a more significant escalation is nearing.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after the United Nations General Assembly, said that Greater Idlib was the last “terrorist outpost” in Syria. He said that Russian positions were being attacked, and that it wouldn’t stand.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to avoid a cataclysm, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to discuss the unstable situation in Greater Idlib with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on September 29th.
It is likely that Erdogan would try to salvage the ceasefire agreement, but it is an open secret that Ankara is doing nothing to maintain or preserve it, as militants, protected by the Turkish Armed Forces, are allowed to do as they please.