Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who is nothing to blame for having a fellow feeling for official Damascus, says Turkey has been intensively preparing for direct military action against the Syrian government army. According to him, over 1, 450 Turkish trailers and trucks with hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery installations, control units, ammunition and other military equipment arrived in Syria from February 2 to 9, 2020. Several hundred armored vehicles with more than six thousand special forces troops have crossed the border.
The Turkish command has deployed nine extra bulwarks in the province of Idlib, reinforced with tanks and artillery under the guise of "observation posts" stipulated by the Sochi agreements. As of February 11, the total number of Turkish military facilities inside the Idlib de-escalation zone accounted for 21.
The Turkish Hurriyet daily news, citing an anonymous source in the national military department, reports that each "observation post" has a unit of up to one reinforced battalion deployed.
Armed incidents between the Turkish and Syrian troops took place on February 3 and 10, 2020 without prior notice in the former case, when Ankara's troops were mistaken for a group of terrorists because of the darkness hours. In the latter case, the Turks themselves provoked the conflict by pushing one of the controlled formations to launch an attack on the Syrian troops from the boundary of their military facility.
But, as practice shows, the military are always swift to understand each other. They are also the ones to end wars that are started and prepared by politicians...
That's true about the current situation either: Recep Erdogan got "overheated" to deliver an ultimatum to Syria (as good as Russia) to completely withdraw Syrian (as good as Russian) troops from the Idlib zone by the end of February. Just think of it – the entire northwest of the country! Elsewise, he will start a war in Syria. Against Russia as well.
His stance is understandable: in 2015, he suddenly lost billions of dollars of income from stealing Syrian oil supplied to him by the Islamic State (ISIL, an international Muslim terrorist group banned in Russia), through the fault of the "northern bear". When the dollar source was gone, Erdogan slightly "pinched" ISIL in the north-east of Syria, driving its troops deep into the country to make the Syrians deal with terrorists themselves.
Then, with enthusiasm and all the power of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and military defectors under his control, he attacked the Kurds, forced them out of the territorial appendicitis of Afrin, and then from all of northern Syria.
All fine and dandy, but it was not meant to be: Russia stubbornly refused to tolerate the creation of a new income zone "worthy of Ottoman heroes" between the left bank of the river Euphrates and the borders with Iraq and Turkey. Officially, Ankara only received a piece 120 km long and 30 km wide, but considered this not a big deal.
By a modest computation, about 40-60 thousand thugs of all shades and nationalities remained under Turkish control, whom Russia, Iran and Syria brought to a closed area. What for? Well, to neutralize all of them at a single specific location.
But it was not to be. The Turks invested enormous efforts and money provided by the Arabs and Europeans to supply the militants with weapons, to bring them into an organized military structure, and to save their lives. No one has invited Erdogan to Syria, and it may happen so that sooner or later he will either be politely and persistently asked to leave, or simply kicked out of this Arab country. And he however wants to hold on to power and dictate his terms to Damascus. Without Bashar Al-Assad. In a perfect world, without the Russians too.
This is up to the opposition, the Turkish "fifth Muslim column". Over the nine years of conflict, its members have forgotten how to live a peaceful life. They only can and want to fight, no matter with whom, as long as there is an ability to shoot and kill. These are what the Turks need as cannon fodder. For money they will cut, shred, tear, blow up, shoot without hesitation and targeting those whom the Ottomans specify, whether Assad's supporters or his successor. Ankara wants a weak, territorially fragmented, politically unstable, and dependent Damascus.
And then the Syrians, having nearly lost their state, cheered up with the help of Russia and began to really threaten the pro-Turkish "fifth column", challenging Ankara's military presence. After all, no one will help the Turks in the current situation: things went somehow wrong with the Americans, while to Europe (NATO) the Ottomans are a mere eyesore. However, these antichrists threaten to let up to three million Syrian refugees in the Old World, even though Europe has already caught the trick of building border barriers.
There is only one thing left: to go after Russia. Or, better still, to try to bargain their own terms. And then it will seem appropriate to bow out.
They can get some concessions on Syria, but the key thing is Libya with its natural resources: Turkey will remove another 20-30 thousand fighters from Syria to Africa, and Russia will not interfere (silently support) with Turkey in Libya.
However, it is hardly possible. (A caged tiger can certainly eat three kilos of meat at a time. But who will let him do that?)
Russia has no less economic and military interest in Libya. Traditional interest, mind you. And there is no use of testing Russia to destruction – it is fraught with getting a sock on the jaw.