In the next weeks and months, Idlib is set to be front and center once again in world headlines. Not only have the Turkish and Syrian armies engaged in direct clashes since the weekend — with dozens of casualties on each side —ready for what increasingly looks like the final showdown over Idlib, but superpowers Russia and the US have again lined up on either side. Here are some indicators that dramatic escalation is on the immediate horizon.
An impressive, perhaps unprecedented build-up of seemingly endless columns of Turkish armored vehicles and tanks were seen amassing on the border this week:
1) Turkey announced Thursday more soldiers are being deployed to Idlib after already previously amassing troops at the border.
According to Turkey’s Daily Sabah:
The Turkish military has dispatched more soldiers and stationed multiple rocket launchers on the Syrian border as it continues to reinforce units and equipment at Turkey’s observation posts in northwestern Idlib province.
The rocket launchers were deployed in Hatay province, while commando squads headed to their units in armored vehicles.
2) Turkish tanks, armored columns, and elite commandos are pouring in as state powers are on a collision course:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has put NATO’s second-largest army on a collision course with Russian-backed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to try to prevent the fall of Idlib province, Syria’s last rebel stronghold.
The Turkish military ordered hundreds of tanks and armored cars dispatched to Idlib and struck about 170 targets in Syria in retaliation for attacks by Syrian forces that killed at least 12 Turkish soldiers in the northwestern province this month. Russia demanded a halt to attacks on Russian forces and their allies in the northwestern province, who’ve been conducting a months-long advance on the opposition bastion. — Bloomberg
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