Over 2,600 militants have laid down arms in the Wadi Barada area near Damascus. Those who refused to do this are leaving to the Idlib province with their families. However, some Jabhat Fatah al-Sham units are still hiding in the mountains area. Soon the whole region will be controlled by government forces.
The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have liberated from ISIS the village of Madiuna and the hill of Mashrifah southwest of the ISIS-stronghold of al-Bab in the province of Aleppo. Government forces are now further developing momentum south of Al-Bab.
Meanwhile, Turkish militant groups, backed by the Turkish Armed Forces, retook Amiyah and Seflaniye from ISIS.
Government troops have recaptured from ISIS two hills north of the Tiyas Airbase in the province of Homs. The army continues to expand a buffer zone near the airbase.
US President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon and State Department to develop a plan of creating a series of “safe zones” for refugees fleeing violence in Syria. According to reports, the plan has to be ready within 90 days.
The decision pursues 3 main goals:
- To decrease Ankara’s involvement into the cooperation with Russia and Iran, and into the so-called “Astana format”. Turkey has been seeking to set up such zones in Syria for a long time, but it didn’t have support from the US.
- To increase a US influence in Syria. Washington is the only power, excluding Russia and Iran, which can guarantee a creation of such zones.
- To show a positive involvement into the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The problem is that a closer cooperation with Turkey is almost not possible while Washington supports the Kurdish YPG and its advance on Raqqa. Furthermore, Moscow and Tehran oppose the US idea to set up safe zones in Syria.
In any case, Trump’s administration shows that it’s going to implement an active policy in the Middle East.