AMMAN (Reuters) – Russia has despatched particular forces in latest days to battle alongside Syrian military troops in northwestern Syria the place they’ve been struggling for greater than two months to grab the final opposition bastion, senior insurgent commanders stated.
FILE PHOTO: A Syrian soldier takes selfies footage as Russian army automobile is seen in convoy throughout re-opening the street between Homs and Hama in Rastan,Syria June 6, 2018. REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki
Moscow, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad, denied on Thursday that it had despatched particular forces to Idlib, sustaining that Russia has no floor troops in Syria.
The insurgent commanders stated Russian officers and troops had been behind entrance strains directing the operation in northern Hama and adjoining Idlib province because it started in April, utilizing snipers and firing anti-tank missiles.
They stated this was the primary time Russian floor forces had joined within the battle to grab the strategic Humaymat hilltops which fell into insurgent arms final week.
“These particular Russian forces at the moment are current within the battlefield. The Russians are intervening immediately now,” stated Captain Naji Mustafa, spokesman for the Turkey-backed Nationwide Liberation Entrance (NLF) coalition of insurgent factions.
“When (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad’s forces did not advance, Russia then intervened immediately … after bombing the realm with greater than 200 sorties,” Mustafa stated.
Russia’s protection ministry stated these had been false allegations, calling them “one other faux”, and repeated its official place that “There haven’t been and there should not now any Russian floor forces in Syria.”
“In step with the Russian-Turkish agreements of 2017 solely Russian army police observations posts are situated across the perimeter of the Idlib de-escalation zone which together with Turkish colleagues are monitoring the ceasefire regime,” the ministry stated in an announcement.
IDLIB CAMPAIGN CRISIS
Greater than two months of Russian-backed operations in and round Idlib province have yielded little or nothing for Russia and Assad – a uncommon case of a army marketing campaign that has not gone in Russia’s favor because it intervened within the Syrian battle in 2015.
Jamil al-Saleh, the pinnacle of the Jaish al Izza insurgent group, stated Moscow’s deployment of undisclosed numbers of floor forces got here solely after elite Syrian troops referred to as the Tiger Forces and allied militias had been unable to make “any important territorial good points.”
“The Syrian military discovered itself in a disaster and had been compelled to ask for Russian troops on the battlefield,” Saleh stated, including he believed that Moscow miscalculated the energy and motivation of the rebels combating of their final remaining bastion.
“In mild of the dimensions of artillery and aerial bombing, the Russians and the regime had anticipated to grab giant areas,” Saleh stated.
Rebels in northwestern Syria contacted by Reuters stated provides of weapons together with guided anti-tank missiles by Turkey had not solely made it a pricey battle for the Russians and their allies however repelled floor assaults.
The Russian-led assault in opposition held northwestern Syria not solely left dozens of villages and cities in ruins however based on the United Nations compelled over 300,000 civilians to flee to the protection of areas nearer to the Turkish border.
One other insurgent official stated Iranian-backed Shi’ite forces that had up to now avoided becoming a member of the Russian-led assault had been now additionally getting into the battlefield.
“The Iranians have introduced reinforcements and at the moment are combating on a number of fronts,” stated Mohammad Rashid, a spokesperson for Jaish al-Nasr, a Turkey-backed insurgent group combating the Syrian military.
Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi, further reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Anton Kolodyazhnyy in Moscow, enhancing by Raissa Kasolowsky