Bernhard at MoA is trying hard to keep up with military events in Idlib, which are so fast-moving they've confounded even 'expert' observers. His March 1 note on recent developments (see below) is already outdated. Just when everyone was digesting the news that the Turks had retaken Saraqib, SouthFront reported today that the Syrian army had taken it back. Russian police are already policing the town and environs.
On March 1 Col. Lang at SST expressed the concern that Erdogan is trying to trigger Article 5, which could mean a big military confrontation between NATO and Russia. But if the U.S. Secretary of Defense is to be believed, indications as of today are that the White House is fine with Erdogan stewing in his own juices.
The confusion is made worse because Erdogan is running back and forth between Putin and Trump alternately pleading and bullying while making good on his threat to turn loose on Europe Syrian refugees he's been holding in abeyance in Turkey. This is not the way to win hearts and minds at NATO -- or at the Kremlin or White House.
I also think it was a serious mistake for the Turks to haul in the Sputnik bureau chief in Turkey on unspecified charges. Three other Sputnik staffers disappeared after they asked for Turk police protection when Turkish nationalists attacked them.March 1, 2019
Moon of Alabama
The current situation in Syria is confusing.
The Russian airforce and air defense went quiet after the bombing of the Turkish infantry battalion. Putin presumably wants a deal over Idleb but neither Damascus nor Ankara are willing to agree to whatever he proposed. Unfortunately there has been no official comment on the situation from Moscow or Damascus. All 'experts' are currently just guessing.
Turkey used the Russian air defense pause to send armed drones behind the Syrian lines. These caused damage though less than Turkey claimed.
Some Hizbullah and Iranian troops were hit and Turkey has received warnings from Iran and Lebanon that this will have consequences for the Turkish soldiers in Idleb.
Today Syria's air defense was again activated and shot down 6 Turkish drones. The Jihadis thought it was a Syrian plane and celebrated.
Turkey responded by shooting down a Syrian jet over Idleb. The missile was fired from Turkey. [Pundita note: Pilot ejected safely; reportedly' a second jet was shot down and that pilot also bailed safely.]
Another drone was shot down near the Russian air base in Latakia.
Syria's Foreign Minister met his Libyan colleague from the Libyan National Accord under General Haftar. They criticized the "Turkish aggression" against both countries and signed some agreements.
Today Turkey arrested the Sputnik bureau chief in Istanbul.
Posted by b on March 1, 2020 at 14:04 UTC
[END MoA REPORT]