|Merkava Mk4 MBT|
|Map from Global SITREP C10-18 07SEP20`8|
This morning an emergency meeting of NATO, under Article 4 of the NATO charter, will occur at Turkey's request following an airstrike last evening by the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) on Turkish armed forces in Idlib. The SAAF strike killed 33 Turkish soldiers. In retaliation Turkish airstrikes have been pounding a broad range of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions and depots for hours on end, with the Turkish defense ministry estimating the neutralizing of at least 300 SAA troops, and other foreign sources estimating only a couple dozen SAA troops have been killed in the ongoing retaliation.
Thus, the crisis between Turkey and Russia/Iran-backed Syria has reached an unprecedented level of escalation. Additionally, multiple intelligence reports confirm that two Russian naval frigates armed with Kalibur-NK cruise missiles have deployed the Mediterranean Sea from the RussianBlack Sea Fleet. One Russian lawmaker has directly threatened the Turkish forces. The cruise missiles almost certainly would be used against Turkish forces. Ironically, the Turkish forces in Idlib are there under an agreement with Russia to defend ethnic Turks from the SAA. Turkey and Russia are no where near being allies, even Iran is predicting a Turkish defeat in Syria.
In southern Syria last night there was a significant engagement between IDF attack helicopters and "Syrian" troops in the area between Hader and Quneitra on the Golan. The "Syrian" troops could be a mix of SAA, Hezbollah and IRGC-QF troops who are well-known to disguise themselves in SAA uniforms. There were two separate IDF heliborne strikes yesterday. In the first a high-level Hezbollah officer, Imad Tawil, was reportedly killed; in the second several of the "Syrian" troops were severely injured. These troops have been busy establishing forward combat positions on the Golan for IRGC-QF operations against Israel.
New developments today may resolve some of the ambiguities in current OSINT reporting. Watching closely...
|Turkish Bayraktar TB2 UAV|
The hundreds of Syrian tanks and armored vehicles that were destroyed in and around the town of Saraqeb owe their miserable fate largely to the Turkish drone imaged above, the Bayraktar TB2. The relatively cheap drone was instrumental in not only halting the Syrians in their tracks but in getting Vladimir Putin's undivided attention. This resulted in the Erdogan-Putin summit and ceasefire agreement of last Thursday. Putin's attention was piqued by the fact that Turkey has sold several of the Bayraktar TB2 drones to Ukraine which could easily be turned loose on pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine to devastating effect.
Skirmishing in Idlib is sporadic, but these are nothing like the pitched battle of two weeks ago which destroyed the Syrian Army day and night without cessation. Russia could have intervened directly, but the cost over a small province such as Idlib was obviously not something Putin would go all-in on. So, for the moment a fragile ceasefire remains in place. Hundred of Turkish Army reinforcements have flooded into Idlib during the present lull. And that's all this is, a lull in the fighting.