Idleb province has recently witnessed swift developments, with Assad’s forces heading to the outskirts of the city of Khan Sheikhoun, which has pushed Turkey to send military reinforcements as a step towards stopping the advance.
On Monday, activists from Idleb province, including the Idleb Media Center said that a Turkish convoy composed of 28 vehicles entered the southern Idleb countryside. While entering the town of Maarat al-Nouman they were bombed by regime warplanes, which killed a member of the Faylaq al-Sham unit, which had been accompanying them.
Activists published video recordings that showed the first moments of the airstrike that hit the convoy, which included five tanks and two BMP vehicles.
According to activists, a Turkish convoy composed only of vehicles without tanks headed from Saraqeb toward Maarat Nouman.
The entry of Turkish reinforcements to the southern Idleb countryside came after the arrival of Assad’s forces to the outskirts of the “strategic” Khan Sheikhoun, with the control of the nearby al-Faqeer checkpoint.
The advance of Assad’s forces toward Khan Sheikhoun came after heavy fire from Russian and regime warplanes overnight, focused on Maarat Nouman and its environs, as well as Khan Sheikhoun.
Turkey’s aim by sending Turkish reinforcements to the southern Idleb countryside was not immediately clear. It was also not clear where they would settle, whether at the Murak observation point in the northern Hama countryside or in Khan Sheikhon in order to stop the regime advance.
The regime threatens escalation
Commenting on the entry of military reinforcements to Idleb, the SANA news agency quoted an official source in the regime government Foreign Ministry as saying: “Turkish vehicles loaded with ammunition, weapons and equipment have crossed the border and moved towards Khan Sheikhoun in the Idleb countryside to assist the defeated al-Nusra Front terrorists, confirming the unlimited Turkish support for terrorist groups.”
The source added: “The hostile behavior of the Turkish regime will not in any way affect the determination of the Syrian Arab Army in continuing to expel the terrorist remnants in Khan Sheikhoun and elsewhere, until all Syrian territory is fully purged of terrorists.”
Russia, considered a key party to the Sochi agreement signed in September 2018 with the Turks, did not comment on the entry of Turkish reinforcements. Russia is also the most prominent backer of the military campaign being carried out by the Assad regime in Idleb and the Hama countryside.
Reinforcements for the “National Army”
All this comes a day after the Turkish-backed National Army, which operates in the northern Aleppo countryside, sent military reinforcements to the northern Hama countryside to take part in repelling the advancing Assad forces.
The National Army spokesman, Youssef Hammoud, told Alsouria Net on Sunday: “Yesterday and this morning we sent military convoys in accordance with requests from the National Front for Liberation operations room.”
Hammoud added: “The convoys reached the operations room and other convoys will arrive later, God willing.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.