Citing Turkish intelligence, the mass media has reported that pro-Iranian forces in Syria have been activated in the wake of the US’s assassination of the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. According to Turkish intelligence, Iranian divisions and several armed groups linked to Iran’s activity have been deployed on the border of the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo.
If the Turkish sources are to be believed, then soldiers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are also being transferred to Idlib. According to the Turkish news agency Anadolu, their primary goal is to “eliminate the de-escalation zone in Idlib”.
Pro-Iranian armed divisions and the IRGC in Syria are evidently planning to deal a final blow to Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Al-Nusra Front, a terrorist group).
It should be noted that there are Syrian government forces in the southern and western regions of Idlib. If an operation against the militants is begun, it will probably be a joint operation between the Syrian Army, the IRGC and pro-Iranian armed groups. It is possible that by the end of the operation, Damascus could regain control of the entire Idlib province, which has not been the case since 2011.
The Turkish media claims that the operation is being planned by Iranian officers and generals.
Against this backdrop, Russian President Vladimir Putin is making a visit to Turkey. Officially the visit is related to the commissioning of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. However, the Russian president also plans to discuss with his Turkish colleague the current situation in Iran, Iraq and Syria, including the matter of Idlib.