By Ramin Hossein Abadian

Assad, Putin's green light for battle of Idlib

February 24, 2019

TEHRAN - All eyes are on Idlib and the terrorist group’s fate there. Media are reporting on massive preparations by the Syrian army and its dispatch to the northern fronts of the country.

More equipment has been sent to Idlib suburbs, and troops under the command of the famous general, Suheil al-Hassan, are based in the outskirts. The equipment includes tanks and other weapons, as the Syrian army prepares to recapture Idlib. Many Syrian force have been stationed at Jourin base in the northwest of the countryside beyond Hama and in al-Ahmar in Jab al-Ahmar village in Latakia and surrounds.

General Suheil al-Hassan is Syria's most notorious commander who is said to be undefeated in war. He has achieved significant success in battles against armed terrorist groups in Syria. Known as the Tiger, he successfully used psychological warfare techniques using large speakers that spread frightening messages.

 The terrorist groups that are in Idlib

There are various terrorist groups in Idlib, the most important of which is the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra. In particular, since July 2017, the group has had the most influence in Idlib.

Smaller groups are Jaysh al-Badia and Jaysh al-Malahim fighting in the south of Idlib. On January 11, 2018, Jaysh al-Malahim issued a statement saying it was fighting in southern Idlib alongside Jaysh al-Badiya.

The Turkistan Islamic Party, which has close ties to al-Qaeda found in Xinjiang Province, western China, is considered broadly as a terrorist group but is present in Syria. The group has media tools such as the Telegram, which publishes their statements and activities.
In July 2017, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham defeated its only serious rival, Ahrar al-Sham, for factional dominance in Syria’s insurgent-held northwest, centered on Idlib province.

Other groups include other movements such as Nour Al-Din Al-Zinki , Jaysh Al-Ahrar, Faylaq al-Sham, Jaish al-Ezzah, (a Free Syrian Army flagged faction), and some smaller groups in Idlib.

It is time to see that the Syrian government, with the support of its allies, has decided to take important and decisive steps to strengthen the Syrian Armed Forces and equipment in the northern suburbs of Hama and south of Idlib, despite the U.S. and international obstinacy. 

The question is whether Syria and its allies have taken the final decision to confront the terrorists in Idlib, especially the legitimate and sovereign right of Syria, and Turkey has, like always, refused to fulfill its obligations? Can Lavrov speech at Munich Security Conference be considered a message to Turkey and the U.S.? What is the Syrian army's strategy to prevent civilian casualties? Can the battle of Idlib end easily and quickly? What will be the reaction of regional and international countries, and what will Turkey do?

What America misses with the domination of Damascus

The United States is worried that the Syrian army will remove all the military and field milestones that the United States and regional allies can use to exert pressure on Damascus. Especially since the battle of Idlib will be the last stage in the process of liberating the entire geography of Syria from terrorists.

With the liberation of Idlib, the Syrian government returns to the pre-crisis situation, and those who launched the multi-year war against Syria will return empty handed and Damascus will be victorious, while the U.S.  and allies will be the losers.

Russia is aware of the situation, and analysts say they will directly support the Syrian army in the face of a possible U.S. reaction. Washington is afraid that Damascus will move swiftly to try to recapture all areas under occupation in Syria, including areas controlled by U.S. military units.

What will happen to the terrorists in Umm al-Ma'arik Battle?

Terrorists who do not surrender will be dealt with. According to media reports, all eyes are on the main roads such as Hamah-Idlib, Aleppo- Latakia. All measures are being taken for a tough battle in a region where thousands of Arab, Turkmen, Chinese and Uzbek terrorists are present.

No one can predict how difficult the battle to recapture Idlib might be. Some observers predict a tough fight, while others claim the Syrian army is more than ready to prevail after victories in the south of Syria. 

Idlib is the home for rebels and terrorists gathered from all regions. The battle of the city is associated with a lot of complexities compared to the previous fronts and is difficult to predict the course of its field developments. The coming days will reveal the fate of Syria and the determination of the Damascus government to dominate the entire country.