ALEPPO, Syria — The Turkish Defense Ministry lately introduced the killing of a sergeant in an assault waged by unknown males Jan. 31 in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib. The ministry tweeted Feb. 3 that Sgt. Basri Demirel of the Turkish metropolis of Kayseri died in Hatay Hospital in southern Turkey, near the border with Syria, on account of wounds he suffered in a terrorist assault on Turkish troopers Jan. 31.
It was the most recent in a sequence of such incidents. On Jan. 16, the little-known Ansar Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Brigade focused a Turkish military put up in Batabo city in Aleppo’s western countryside. On Sept. 6, 2020, the jihadi group shot Turkish troopers in Maataram near Ariha within the south of Idlib, killing one Turkish soldier and wounding one other. And on Aug. 27, 2020, the identical group claimed accountability for a automobile bomb assault near a Turkish put up within the Jisr al-Shughur space in Idlib’s western countryside.
The little-known Khattab al-Shishani Brigades focused joint Turkish-Russian patrols on the Aleppo-Latakia M4 worldwide freeway thrice. The first was on July 14, 2020, when a booby-trapped automobile focused a joint Turkish-Russian patrol on the M4 street. On Aug. 17, 2020, the jihadis claimed accountability for concentrating on a car from the patrol with a rocket-propelled grenade and on Aug. 25, 2020, a joint patrol on the M4 freeway was additionally focused by the group.
The repeated concentrating on of the Turkish navy in Idlib has pushed the Turkish military to put in surveillance cameras on the M4 freeway Feb. 1 to attempt to foil any potential concentrating on of Turkish navy posts and areas.
Meanwhile, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has been mobilizing since early February its safety forces throughout Idlib to dismantle any suspected cells. For their half, the factions affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) tightened their safety measures by growing inspections on the checkpoints and monitoring the roads the place Turkish military convoys cross via near the Turkish navy posts and bases. The FSA factions additionally arrange a safety perimeter on each side of the M4 freeway.
Questions come up as to who’s benefiting from the assaults on Turkish troopers in Idlib and whether or not the jihadi teams which have claimed accountability for these assaults are literally accountable. Are these claiming credit score actual formations or mere facades for numerous events? Accusations are primarily directed on the Syrian regime of being behind these assaults, because it is among the primary events opposing the Turkish presence in Idlib. But others accuse al-Qaeda-affiliated Hurras al-Din (Guardians of Religion Organization), which has been below a good siege led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Hurras al-Din believes Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is an ally of Turkey. Meanwhile, the Islamic State may be accountable for the assaults towards Turkish presence in Idlib, for the reason that group considers the Turkish regime to be an apostate that should be fought.
Firas Faham, a researcher on the Jusoor Studies Center based mostly in Turkey, instructed Al-Monitor, “So far, the jihadi groups that claimed responsibility for the attacks on Turkish bases in Idlib, such as Ansar Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Brigade and Khattab al-Shishani Brigades, have not been identified. None of their members have been arrested either. They might just be fake names for non-jihadi cells and groups working for several parties.”
Faham mentioned, “It is in the interest of the Syrian regime for the Turkish army to be targeted in Idlib. The regime isn’t comfortable with the Turkish military moves and deployment in Idlib, as this has halted the military operations of the regime and its allies and prevented them from spreading their control in Idlib. The regime considers Turkey an enemy in Idlib but cannot openly attack its military presence because it cannot afford a Turkish response. We can [assume] that the regime is responsible for many of the attacks against Turks in the area through its affiliated security cells and groups, which it controls from afar.”
Faham added, “Hurras al-Din might also be implicated in the operations against the Turkish army in Idlib because it considers them foreign forces targeting the jihadi mission in Syria. The organization blames Turkey for the campaign that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham launched against its [Hurras al-Din’s] presence in Idlib and believes that Turkey paid for and supported this campaign to eliminate the organization from Idlib in the coming months. Hurras al-Din’s [possible] targeting of Turkish bases and soldiers in Idlib might be an act of retaliation.”
Al-Farook Abu Bakr, the deputy chief of the Al-Motassem Brigade, which is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), instructed Al-Monitor, “[Bashar] al-Assad’s regime is the first culprit in the attacks on the Turkish army in Idlib. It employs its agents and groups using pseudonyms that have a jihadi meaning to remove any suspicion.”
Mostafa Bakkour, a navy analyst who lives in Idlib, instructed Al-Monitor, “The escalating attacks on Turkish soldiers and positions in Idlib were triggered by the Turkish army’s continuous establishment of lines of defense and deployment of many military posts in Jabal al-Zawiya to the south of the M4 highway, in partnership with the FSA factions. The Turkish army is close to securing the area and implementing all understandings with Russia, which will prevent any possible military attack by the regime in Idlib and will cement the cease-fire [reached in March 2020]. The regime and [its allied] Iranian militias do not like these prospects, because they want to continue with their military operations and control Idlib fully, then force Turkey to retreat.”
Mohmad Rasheed, a journalist who works with the Hama Media Office, instructed Al-Monitor, “It is unlikely that the Islamic State is involved in the attacks on Turkish soldiers and military bases in Idlib. The Islamic State is currently focusing its enmity on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which it considers its primary foe and is targeting through cells and security members.”
Bakkour added, “The attacks against the Turkish army in Idlib will not slow down its efforts to impose calm and implement the Sochi agreement reached with Russia. It seems both Russia and Turkey are working to deescalate the situation and impose a truce, so these attacks [against the Turkish army] will not obstruct the military efforts in Idlib.”
On Feb. 11, Turkish and Russian forces carried out joint navy workouts in Saraqib in jap Idlib, based on the Russian Zvezda TV channel, affiliated with the Russian Defense Ministry. The channel launched a video displaying Turkish and Russian forces speaking through radio forward of the drills. This could pave the best way for the return of coordination between Russia and Turkey, which may finally result in the reopening of the M4 freeway to permit joint Turkish-Russian convoys to resume their patrols on the street. The Syrian regime appears to reject these Russian-Turkish strikes since they are going to result in the implementation of the Sochi settlement, and thus forestall it [the regime] from launching its offensive in Idlib. This could clarify the regime’s curiosity in creating chaos and destabilizing the Turkish military in Idlib.
The General Security Service in Idlib, which is related to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, mentioned Jan. 31 that it killed Abu Dajana al-Daghestani, who’s a member of the Islamic State in al-Dana in north Idlib.