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2 Mar, 2020 16:24

Russian military police deployed to strategic Idlib town of Saraqeb – Defense Ministry

Russian military police deployed to strategic Idlib town of Saraqeb – Defense Ministry

Russian military police have been deployed to Saraqeb in Syria’s Idlib province, the Defense Ministry has confirmed. Until recently, the strategic town has seen heavy fighting between Syrian forces and Turkish-backed militants.

The police presence is especially important because of the key role that Saraqeb plays in assuring the safety of vehicles and the civilian population travelling along the M4 and M5 highways.

The M4 connects the major port of Latakia to the Syrian-Iraqi border, while the M5 links Aleppo with Syrian capital Damascus and goes all the way to Jordan. Saraqeb is located near both of these transportation corridors.

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There was heavy fighting between Syrian government forces and the militants, who were backed by Turkish artillery, over the town in recent weeks. In late February, the jihadists even announced that they were able to get hold of Saraqeb, but the Russian military sources denied those claims, saying that all of the attacks were repelled.

The Syrian forces established full control over Saraqeb on February 5. That triggered quite a response from Ankara, which demanded Damascus draw back its forces to the positions they occupied in late 2019. It also tried persuading Moscow to pressure its Syrian allies to retreat.

Tensions did not die down between Damascus and Ankara over the following weeks. One of the major escalations followed after Turkey sent its troops to Idlib – the last remaining terrorist stronghold in Syria – provoking airstrikes and deadly clashes between the sides.

On Monday, Turkey lost several of its drones during a major offensive in the area, but managed to shoot down two Syrian Su-24 bombers.

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Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heading to Moscow on March 5 for talks with Vladimir Putin, with hopes being high that the two leaders will be able to find a way to stop the bloodshed in Idlib.

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