On August 19th, 2019, the Syrian Arab Air Force launched an airstrike, halting the Turkish military convoy heading to the 9th observation post in Morek which was established as a part of the Astana process brokered by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. The attack took place along the M5 highway, north of Khan Sheikhun, a critical choke-point. Later on, Assad’s forces have boosted their offensive and captured the geostrategically critical town. At present, the regime’s military activities have intensified around Maarat al-Nu’man, another M5 choke point located in the north of Khan Sheikun. In the meanwhile, the Syrian Araby Army’s maneuvers have effectively isolated the Turkish observation post. Furthermore, the Turkish convoy, which had been en route to Morek in the beginning, has set defensive positions in a critical location between Khan Sheikun and Maarat al-Nu’man. The Syrian Arab Army, supported by the Russian airpower, is preparing for a robust offensive in greater Idlib that could cause troublesome humanitarian problems.
- The regime offensive could displace millions of people in Idlib and overwhelm Turkey’s security capacity to keep Europe safe.
- Turkish forward-deployed contingents and the Syrian Arab Army’s elite units are now positioned dangerously close to each other. With one mistake at tactical level, small units could escalate into an armed conflict.