© Mikhail Metzel/TASS
According to the Arab regional publication Asharq al-Awsat referring to founder of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman, since the beginning of September, the Russian Military Space Forces have carried out over 200 strikes on facilities of illegal armed groups in northwestern Syria from the Khmeimim airbase. In parallel, the intensity of air raids is on the rise.
Military observers, including representatives of Syrian anti-government groups, note several new things about Russia's air force performance. Thus, strike activity in the south of Idlib Governorate has somewhat reduced. And that of the Russian combat and reconnaissance aircraft has sharply increased against terrorist and extremist armed groups along the M4 highway between Aleppo and Latakia, as well as western areas next to the Turkish border.
Another important point is srtikes with enhanced air precision-guided munitions against armed forces located in the immediate vicinity of Turkish observation posts.
Third, Ankara was surprised by the sudden crushing airstrikes against organizations considered "moderate" by the Turks in the Ankara-occupied enclave of Afrin in the far northwest. Asharq al-Awsat particularly writes that a September 26 air raid destroyed the command post of the al-Hamza Division radical armed group outside Afrin in the north-west of Aleppo Governorate. The militants' death toll amounted to over 10 people, with another 15 wounded.
Combat aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force continue suppressing facilities and locations of militants in the governorates of Hama, Homs, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. Both countries' reconnaissance aircraft stay aloft over the troubled areas almost twenty-four seven.
At the same time, the Syrian government army's artillery is carrying out intensive shelling of militant positions in the south of Idlib Governorate, northwest of Hama and west of Aleppo in order to inflict the highest possible damage to the illegal armed formations both in manpower and military equipment.
According to regional military observers, the Syrian Armed Forces command has recently concentrated major forces with cutting-edge weapons around the so-called "Idlib de-escalation zone", deploying a rear area physical infrastructure network.
In turn, the Russian command strengthened the naval task force at the Mediterranean logistics support base of Tartus, deploying there several fast attack guided missile craft armed with Kalibr cruise missiles.
All these events and the situation in north-western Syria indicate that Russia is ready to hold high-level talks with Turkey in Sochi on September 29, 2021. Russian President Vladimir Putin may demand that Recep Tayyip Erdogan promptly fulfill the previously assumed commitments on disarming illegal armed groups, opening transport links in the region and ensuring its safety as soon as possible.
Military activities of Russia and Syria are an essentially unconcealed demonstration of Moscow's readiness to withdraw from the Idlib zone ceasefire agreement of March 5, 2020, and to open hostilities in order to liberate the region from the presence of terrorists and illegal armed groups loyal to Turkey.