Idlib is bleeding. Radical Islamists, who lost the war in Syria, are trying to retain power in the country’s north-western province at the cost of civilian lives. In fact, this is the final obstacle to peace in the country. Idlib province in Syria is the largest al-Qaeda safe haven.
The Islamists found themselves in Idlib in 2011 with the attacks of al-Qaeda terrorists on the Syrian government forces that held the line in the northern part of the province next to Jisr ash-Shugur. Over time, it turned into a real transit camp, from which militants from all over the world penetrated into Syria. Weapons were supplied via the ports of the Turkish Hatay Province.
The US joined the game a little later, in 2012. Supported by the special services of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Jordan, the Americans sent military instructors, equipment, and money to Syria. In 2013, Washington, accommodating, among other things, the wishes of Tel Aviv, gave the go-ahead to weapon supplies to several thousand Islamic militants.
The Western media called the militants “rebels”, although everyone understood that they were abandoned villains planning to turn Syria into a theocratic state.
They set up their training camp south of Idlib, between Mount Zāwiya and the small town of Maarrat al-Nu’man. From there, the jihadists penetrated into other parts of Syria.
In 2014 and 2015, the Islamists, who had the most state-of-the-art weapons including anti-tank missile systems, pursued a hard-fought offensive on the province capital – the city of Idlib, which was then controlled by the Syrian government army. But Idlib fell.
The Syrian troops sustained losses and retreated far inland. By the way, at that very moment Damascus sought military help from Russia.
After the fall of the province’s major city, thousands of militants of the Islamist “Army of Conquest” aided by Turkey and the Gulf countries advanced further, to Aleppo, but were stopped by the Syrian army at great sacrifice of life. The turning point of the war occurred in late 2016 with the complete liberation of Aleppo from armed gangs. The scattered militias made their way back to Idlib.
The USA, Great Britain and Germany took a wait-and-see approach. As for Syria itself, its government troops had planned a military operation to liberate Idlib since the summer of 2018, but calls coming from the West “to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe” forced Assad to postpone the offensive. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made clear what Europe really feared. Many militants in Idlib have European countries’ citizenship.
In case of a military operation, they would flee to national headquarters and pose a threat to the entire continent. In this context, Le Drian confirmed Mcgurk’s words about Idlib’s becoming a haven for al-Qaeda’s international forces. In other words, those backing the militants in Idlib lost control over them and ought to pay for it.
The problem of Idlib obviously requires an urgent solution. Meanwhile, the situation is heating up. Both sides are already preparing for an offensive: the Syrian army – against the militants who took refuge in Idlib, and the militants – against the government troops’ positions. A compromise can be found only by means of joint actions by the Astana process guarantors with the involvement of those Western countries whose citizens are fighting in Syria on the side of jihadists. But will such a huge number of players have enough political will to reach an understanding?
As long as the issue remains open, Idlib will maintain its status of a new haven for terrorists, and Syria will be in the war’s state. – Inforos.ru
*Karin Leukefeld is an international observer from Germany
2019-08-19 07:39:18 | 3 months ago