Tensions continue to simmer between Turkish and pro-government forces along the demarcation line, with largescale troop buildups across northwest and northeast Syria underscoring the risk of escalation from both sides. In recent weeks, additional Turkish convoys have continued to transport military reinforcements, equipment, and construction materials to military points in the Idlib countryside, while the regime has moved additional allied militia groups to the frontlines in the eastern Aleppo countryside. Although full-scale war remains unlikely for now, the regime’s bombardment of sites near the Turkish Nabi Ayoub military base demonstrate the very real risks of escalation. Meanwhile, Russian and regime bombardment of civilian sites across the northwest continues on a nearly daily basis, with deaths and injuries disproportionately affecting women and children.
Attached Map: Military Situation in North-West Syria – 13th December 2021
(The timeframe for this report is the month of November 2021)
Military Situation in Idlib
- Regime violations: Regime forces and the militias supporting them continue to regularly violate the de-escalation agreement, targeting 25 villages with artillery strikes in the southern Idlib and the western Aleppo countryside. A wave of these attacks in November left at least 11 civilians dead and dozens of others wounded, a number of them children. Towns that suffered casualties or material damage from regime shelling were mainly in the Jabal Al-Zawiya area south of the M4. The extremist grouping Fateh Al-Mabin repelled three attempted regime advances along the of Jabal Al-Zawiya, Fleifel and Deir Sunbul axis (3.11, 9.11, 20.11). Clashes also broke out between pro-government forces and Fateh Al-Mabin, on the Basartun front in the western countryside of Aleppo, when members of the former were discovered trying to lay landmines nearby (1.11).
- Russian violations: The Russian air force launched a number of airstrikes targeting civilian areas in the city of Idlib and across the surrounding countryside in recent weeks. Strikes were confirmed in the cities and villages of Shadarni, Maarat Misrin, Talita, Majdalya, Sarmin, Neirab, Benin, Maarblit and targeting a number of sites in the Jabal al-Zawiya area (6.11, 11.11, 15.11, 22.11, 25.11). The air raids killed at least seven civilians, injured scores of others, and resulted in extensive material damage.
- Opposition & extremists’ violations: Fateh Al-Mabin have launched numerous heavy artillery strikes against pro-government positions along the demarcation line during the past month. Violent clashes were recorded repeatedly on the Kafr Noran-Miznaz axis in the northern Aleppo countryside, and in the village of Maarat Mokhas in southern Idlib (2.11, 7.11, 8.11, 10.11). Additionally, Fatah Al-Mabin artillery strikes were confirmed against pro-government positions in Saraqib, al-Malaja, Sheikh Aqil, Dar Al-Kabira, Tal al-Burkan, Khan al-Sabil, Tal Al-Eis, al-Hader, Khan Toman, Zeitan, Kafr Batikh, and targeting the Syrian Military Academy in the southern Aleppo countryside (10.11, 12.11, 22.11). Fatah Al-Mabin snipers also killed a number of regime soldiers in Saraqib and al-Malaja (3.11, 8.11, 20.11, 27.11).
- Regime mobilizations: Responding to a massive Turkish military buildup along the demarcation line in recent weeks, a column of about 200 pro-government militia members arrived at frontline points of contact with the SNA on the Sajur River, north of Manbij in the eastern Aleppo countryside (5.11). Regime forces also sent a military convoy to the frontline city of Ayn al-Arab near Kobani, after receiving direct orders to mobilize from the Russian forces.
- Anti-Turkish attack: Tensions continue to simmer between the regime and Turkish forces, escalating into at least one direct attack this month, when regime forces bombed a Turkish military base at Nabi Ayoub in the Idlib countryside with Russian-made Krassenbul laser artillery (23.11).
- SDF shelling: Three civilians were killed and at least 15 others wounded after artillery strikes by the SDF on several residential neighborhoods in the city of Afrin, in the northern countryside of Aleppo (20.11).
- Coronavirus: The pandemic continues across northwest Syria, and the number of recorded cases has topped 91,991, while the total number of deaths has climbed to 2,204 (27.11). It is unknown to what extent these numbers represent an undercount, but large areas of northwest Syria remain largely cut off from comprehensive medical care and coronavirus testing rates are still relatively low.