Despite rapid progress made by the Syrian Army with the help of the Russian Air Force in defeating Daesh, there are some major provinces in the country that are still under the control of the terrorists. Syrian political analyst Kamal Jafa and military expert Haitam Hassoum spoke to Sputnik Arabic about this issue.
The forces of Daesh and other terrorist organizations in Syria are rapidly shrinking. The Syrian Arab Army with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces is successfully progressing towards the besieged city of Deir ez-Zor; while the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah units have defeated the terrorists on the Syrian-Lebanese border.
Nevertheless, some of the major provinces in the country, like Idlib, are still in the hands of the militants
What is happening in Idlib?
“In the events of Idlib we see the active participation of the Turkish military and intelligence. Turkey is not interested in the Syrian Army having control over the province. It has spent five years to gain a foothold in this city,” Jafa said.
He further said, “Everyone knows that in Idlib there are about 50,000 foreign fighters who belong to various international organizations of jihadists. These people have combat experience gained in Afghanistan and other hot spots.”
According to the analyst, neither Turkey nor the international coalition led by the United States strikes these fighters.
“I believe that these terrorist groups coordinate their actions with the representatives of Turkish intelligence,” Jafa said.
He further said that in addition to the complicated situation, there are groups controlled by Saudi Arabia and Qatar operating in Idlib. Due to their differences these two countries do not want to have leverage on the situation.
According to the analyst, many countries compete against each other for control over Syrian territories.
“I believe that the main problem will start after defeating Daesh militants when the Syrian Arab Army and its allies will have to deal with Kurdish expansion in the north of Syria,” Jafa said.
What is happening in Raqqa?
“In Raqqa, a complex struggle with a large number of participants has unfolded. Firstly, there is confrontation between the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are supported by the US, and Daesh. However, earlier these forces acted together, and the battles between them had the character of a theatrical performance directed by the United States,” Haitam Hassoum told Sputnik.
He further said that there is also an ongoing conflict within the SDF, which consists of an alliance of Arabs and Kurds, and some Arab commanders are getting quite wary of the ambitions of the Kurds in the region.
“In turn, Kurdish groups began to realize that the rapprochement of the US and Turks on their side could be a dangerous problem for them. All these mutual contradictions led to the continuation of the decisive battle against Daesh in Raqqa,” the military expert said.
Decisive battle ahead
According to Hassoum, there is an unspoken rivalry between the Syrian Arab Army and its allies on the one hand and the Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the United States on the other. Both sides want to be the first in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.
He believes that the Syrian Army and its allies have an advantage as they have come very close to Deir ez-Zor, surrounding it from three sides.
“The Syrian Army has also blocked Raqqa province from three sides and has closed off the passage of militants from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor. So the US and the groups it supports have an unenviable position in this rivalry,” the expert said.
He added that the resolution of the Idlib crisis has been postponed until the end of hostilities in the central regions of Syria.
Earlier it was said that the Syrian Army and self-defense units supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces had significantly advanced toward Deir ez-Zor from three directions, according to the Russian General Staff.
The liberation of Deir ez-Zor will lead to the complete defeat of the most combat-effective formations of the Daesh terrorist group in Syria, the chief of the Russian General Staff's Main Operational Directorate said on Friday.
Deir ez-Zor, located on the shores of the Euphrates River to the northeast of Damascus, and a military airfield near the city have been besieged by Daesh for over three years, with food and ammunition only being delivered by air.