SYRIA: Escalation in Idlib continues as Turkey continues reinforcement and Turkish-backed factions bomb regime positions

IDLIB, Syria — The violent escalation in the so-called “de-escalation zone” in southern Idlib Province continues amid a build up of forces by both the Syrian regime and Turkey.

On Sunday, the Syrian observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Turkish-backed armed factions in Idlib shelled Syrian regime positions along the Damascus–Aleppo highway with rockets. There were reportedly six members of regime forces killed or wounded.

Regime forces shelled positions in southern Idlib in retaliation, though it was unclear if there were any casualties.

SOHR also reported that a new Turkish military convoy of some 70 vehicles entered Idlib Province through the Kafr Lossin Border Crossing consisting of logistics vehicles, tanks, and heavy artillery. After crossing the border, the convoy made its way towards the Turkish observation posts located in the de-escalation area.

Seven similarly composed Turkish convoys crossed the border last week.

Rumors have been floating around Syria and among Syrian analysts of a coming regime offensive in southern Idlib as fears rise of a permanent Turkish presence in Idlib and possibly a Turkish offense in the region.

President of the International Center for Political Analysis and Forecasting Denis Korkodinov recently stated that, “The recent Turkish military reinforcements will later be used as a starting point for a Turkish military operation against Syrian regime forces.”

The aim of strengthening the Turkish military presence in Idlib is to protect Turkey’s armed formations from Russian air strikes, Korkodinov said.

In a statement, the Russian Defense Ministry called on Ankara to take measures to maintain security in the territories where Turkish forces are deployed and to stop the criminal activities of mercenary groups loyal to it.