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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reports that Turkish drones, fighter planes, artillery and ground-to-ground missiles have killed at least 45 Syrian soldiers and pro-Iranian militants in Aleppo and Idlib provinces in the last 24 hours.
A separate SOHR report indicates that at least 10 Hezbollah commanders and militants were killed in Saraqib, south of Aleppo, during the Turkish attacks.
Among the killed Hezbollah members is Shiite cleric Sayed Ali Zanjani. He was killed by a Turkish Armed Forces drone strike in Saraqeb (photo in the centre – second row).
Four Republican Guard officers were also killed by Turkish strikes. They are Major General Burhan Rahmoun, Commander of the 124th Brigade, Brigadier Ismail Ali, Commander of the 873rd Battalion, Colonel Mazen Frowati and Lieutenant Colonel Muhamad Hammoud.
The fighting has changed in nature. Turkish drones are flying continuously over the regime positions in Idlib province and these drones have become the main threat to Syrian government forces. So far, only one Turkish drone has been shot down, and there are a dozen in the air.
According to a Russian journalist, the M5 highway is virtually closed to traffic due to Turkish drone bombings. Anything that moves is targeted. At least 26 Syrian soldiers have been killed in Edleb province during one of these Turkish army bombings. In addition, three Syrian army tanks were reportedly destroyed by Turkish drone strikes in the locality of Hazarain.
The OSDH reports that the Turkish army is attacking not only the enemy’s equipment and personnel, but also research laboratories where chemical weapons have been developed. The Turkish army denied having targeted chemical weapons laboratories.
State-owned #Syria TV reporter on S. #Idlib, Kafarawid/Sfouhen frontline spots, films #Turkey drone while relaying live updates.
'#TSK now directly backing #HTS… We can hear the drones over us' (via Muhammad Kannas) pic.twitter.com/OechYXfOk3
— Riam Dalati (@Dalatrm) February 29, 2020
The rebels launched a violent counter-offensive in the south of Edleb province.
Supported by Turkish drones and artillery, Syrian rebels and jihadists from Hayat Tahrir al-cham, the former Syrian branch of al-Qaida, launched a violent counter-offensive against the regime’s forces in southern Edleb province. The rebels regained control of the localities of Mashik, Ziyarah, Zaytoun, Qastoun, Tall Wasel, Mansoura, Duqmaq, Qulaydin, Zuqum, Al-Qahirah, Al-Ankawi, Al-Hallubah, Quqfin, Kafr Uwayd, Maarrat Muqs, Safahun, Al-Fatirah, Dayr al-Kabir and Hazzarin. These localities had just been taken over by the pro-regime forces and most of them had been looted.
In Ras al-Ain, on the Syrian-Turkish border, a Turkish military vehicle exploded on a mine, injuring the five Turkish military personnel on board.
Syrian soldiers and pro-regime militia angry with Russia
The fact that a single Turkish drone was shot down while dozens were spinning non-stop in the skies over the province of Idlib angered Syrian soldiers and pro-regime militia against Russia. They accuse the Russian army of having abandoned them.
Is there a change of position or a lack of will on the part of Russia in the face of the Turkish offensive in Syria?
One may ask the question. However, Erdogan has been rather arrogant towards the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, by intimidating him to move his soldiers away from the positions of the Syrian army.
A Russian military analyst said on Saturday that the Russian Army was simply not ready for a major confrontation with the Turkish Army, simply because the nuclear option is not on the table, which is the only threat capable of pushing Ankara back.
Turkish bombardment against Syrian Army and allied militia positions in Edleb province continued on the evening of 29 February, as shown in the video below:
— Ermit Joku (@ErmitJ) February 29, 2020
19H43: Convoys of the pro-Turkish rebel units engaged in the Turkish offensives “Euphrates shield” and “Olivier’s Branch” are on their way with their heavy weapons (tanks and artillery) towards the front lines of the Idlib province. It is the first time since the beginning of the clashes between the Syrian and Turkish armies. It should be recalled that these Turkish offensives were launched by Ankara to drive out of an area 120km long and 30km wide along the Turkish border the Kurdish militia YPG and the Syrian Democratic Forces who played a crucial role against Daech’s jihadists.