Uncertainty over number of casualties in Idlib’s engagements

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Sat, 29 Feb 2020 - 05:28 GMT

FILE PHOTO: A man watches as smoke rises after what activists said was an air strike on Atimah, Idlib province March 8, 2015. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: A man watches as smoke rises after what activists said was an air strike on Atimah, Idlib province March 8, 2015. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah/File Photo

CAIRO - 29 February 2020: Turkish opposition platforms reported according to military sources that the number of soldiers killed in Syria’s Idlib since February 27 recorded 200 while that of the injured is 70-80.

By contrast, Turkish authorities announced that the figure of the death toll in the airstrikes launched Thursday by the Syrian Arab Army is just 36 while that of the injured is around 30.

On the other hand, Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan said in a press conference Saturday that 2,000 Syrian soldiers were killed in revenge while 49 tanks, 17 armored vehicles, and 300 vehicles were destroyed. Erdogan added that his country’s troops would not withdraw from the country.

Nevertheless, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reports that fatalities among the ranks of the Syrian Armed Forces are just 48, including 11 officers, in addition to 14 Hezbollah members and leaders. The observatory estimates the number of vehicles destroyed as 13.

February 27

The Syrian Arab Army’s special forces carried out operations against Ansar al-Sham and Ajnad al-Kavkaz terror groups in Saraqeb city located in the eastern countryside of Idlib. The attack succeeded a heavy firing by the Syrian Air Defense Force, and Syrian-Russian airstrikes on militants’ defensive structures.

The Syrian Armed Forces restored three villages/towns in the northwestern countryside of Hama from militants affiliated to the National Front for Liberation backed by Turkey, Ansar al-Sham, and Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Tawhid. The Syrian Armed Forces have been attempting to enter Kastoun town western Hama, which is the stronghold of Ansar al-Tawhid and Uighurs fighting in Syria.

A Syrian military source told Sputnik that reinforcements reached Turkey-backed militants in the axes of engagements through the Western part of Saraqib. The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria announced on Thursday that Turkey continued to back militants by firing artillery and piloting drones.

Russia 24 reported that Turkish troops in Idlib struck concentrations of the Syrian Arab Army and targeted Syrian and Russian fighter jets using anti-aircraft guns.

The news channel added that battles between the Syrian Armed Forces and militants took place near Saraqeb as the latter were trying to occupy the intersection of M5 highway connecting Damascus and Aleppo, and M4 highway connecting Aleppo and Latakia.

Engagements also occurred near Al Nayrab controlled by militants, Gobas, and San. Clashes are precisely fierce in Gobas where the Syrian Arab Army lost many vehicles because of Turkish strikes.

The Russian Ministry of Defense declared on Friday that militants affiliated to the terror group Ansar al-Sham in Idlib’s de-escalation zone struck concentrations of the Syrian Arab Army on February 27.

The ministry added that Turkish soldiers hit by the Syrian Arab Army were located among militants clarifying that Russian aircrafts did not strike the locations of Turkish troops in Idlib.

The ministry added that Turkey did not inform the Russian army that Turkish troops were stationed in Idlib. As reported by Al Arabiya on Friday, Turkey requested an immediate ceasefire from Russia.

On February 28, Russian Frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich - carrying Kalibr-Nk missile complexes - sailed from the Black Sea to the Mediterrenean through Bosphorus Strait.

February 29

SOHR revealed that militants regained control over villages/towns in Idlib and Hama amid clashes and shelling that gave rise to 23 casualties among the Syrian Armed Forces and 31 militants, and dozens of injuries among both sides. The seven villages/towns are Kafr Aweed, Sofohin, Qaqfin, Al-Daqmaq, Al-Zaqom, Qolaydin and Al-Haloubeh.

SOHR observed that Russian jets targeted Kafr Nooran and Al-Atareb in Aleppo’s countryside, and Sarmin, Saraqeb, Afis and several other villages around Idlib’s Saraqeb. The number of airstrikes reached 114.

5 Turkish soldiers, 21 militants killed in Syria in 24 hours

CAIRO - 25 February 2020: Five Turkish soldiers and 11 militants were killed on Monday in raids that targeted a checkpoint located in Idlib's Kansafra village, as reported by Sky News Arabia. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) revealed that fighter jets of the Syrian Arab Army struck the checkpoint, which is one of 12 Turkey has deployed in Syria.




Calls for Ceasefire and Political Solution

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared on Friday that a fact-finding mission is being formed to be sent to Northwestern Syria calling all parties involved to abandon escalation.

Syria’s Envoy to the United Nations Bashar al-Gaafary said in his speech at the Security Council that the presence of Turkish troops far from the 12 checkpoints deployed in the country is proof that Turkey supports terrorist groups in Syria.

Gaafary added that the Turkish regime turned the checkpoints into operations rooms that command militants.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abou al-Gheit called upon warring parties in Syria to commit to a ceasefire immediately. He warned of the impact of regional and international intervention in the country on the ascendance of military confrontations risking the peace process, and security of Syria and the region.

As indicated in a statement by the Arab League on Friday, the escalation caused the displacement of one million Syrians and the targeting of schools and hospitals.

Abou al-Ghait added that the UN Security Council has to pass a truce, and grant aid to more than three million citizens as soon as possible. The Arab League’s secretary-general also calls for a UN-sponsored political dialogue in accordance with resolution no. 2254.

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