Military buildup takes place in N Syria amid al-Qaida reluctance to withdraw

Li Jiayao
2019-09-27 08:33:22

DAMASCUS, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Russian, Turkish and Syrian forces sent reinforcement to areas in northern Syria at a time when the al-Qaida-linked groups are yet to withdraw from a key road linking the country's south with its northern part, a war monitor reported on Thursday.

The Russian forces brought military and logistical reinforcement to its positions in the northern countryside of Aleppo province while the Syrian government forces and allied fighters continued to send military backups to the western countryside of Aleppo as well as the eastern and southeastern countryside of Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian army units are deploying the backup forces to frontline areas in the Idlib and Aleppo in tandem with a similar move by the Russian forces in the northern countryside of Aleppo.

Russian logistics include mobile clinics and ammunition, said the Observatory.

Meanwhile, the UK-based watchdog group said the Turkish forces brought in new forces and military gears, which were deployed near the town of Maarat al-Numan south of Idlib.

This military moves by Russia, which supports the Syrian army and Turkey that backs the rebels, come at a time when the al-Qaida-linked groups are still present on the main road linking the capital Damascus in the south with the Aleppo in the north.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the umbrella group of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, controls a stretch of the road between Latakia province and Aleppo.

Late last month, the Syrian army agreed to observe a cease-fire in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

The Syrian army said that it reserves the right to respond to any violation by the Nusra Front, which is the most powerful rebel group in Idlib.

This is the second truce announced in Idlib this month. On Aug. 1, a Russian and Turkish-backed cease-fire was reached but quickly collapsed.

Since then, battles flared and the Syrian government forces were able to make notable gains, capturing key areas in the southern countryside of Idlib and the adjacent northern countryside of Hama province.

The new cease-fire aims at halting the fighting in Idlib between the Syrian army and the al-Qaida-linked groups.

Reports suggest that part of the government's agreement to the cease-fire in Idlib is to regain control over the rebel-held part of the Damascus-Aleppo road, which has yet to materialize.

This could explain the military buildup in northern Syria as the army seems to prepare for a military campaign should the HTS reject to withdraw from the road.

Related News