As of January 21, the Turkish military is still struggling to secure the areas occupied by its forces in Syria’s northern and northwestern region. Syrian government forces have been also facing security challenges in the country’s central and southern regions.
In the northern region, a new rocket attack targeted the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin on January 20.
Several rockets hit Afrin city center, killing six people, including three children and a woman. At least 24 others were wounded, including ten children and seven women.
The rockets were reportedly launched from a small pocket of land in southern Afrin held by Kurdish forces, namely the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Turkish military and its proxies responded to the deadly rocket attack by shelling the Kurdish-held pocket. Material losses were reported. A child was also wounded.
Kurdish forces may have carried out the attack to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Afrin that began on 20 January 2018. Turkey could use the attack to justify a new military operation in Syria.
In the northwestern region, known as Greater Idlib, the situation was not better for the Turkish military and its proxies.
On January 19, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) shelled the outskirts of a Turkish military post near the town of Qoqfin. No casualties or material losses were reported.
On January 20, the army’s artillery pounded the outskirts of Qoqfin post once again, without causing any losses. Later during the same day, the army struck another Turkish military post located near the town of Kansafra. This time, the shelling wounded three of the post’s guards. The wounded were reportedly Turkish service members and Syrian militants of the Turkish-backed Sham Legion.
The real target of the SAA’s recent artillery strikes was likely militants of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and its allies, who usually take shelter near Turkish posts.
Meanwhile in Syria’s central region, government forces and their allies continue to operate against ISIS cells.
On January 20, the SAA and other government formations kicked off a new large-scale combing operation in the region. The operation will cover the eastern Homs countryside, the Hama-Aleppo-Raqqa triangle and the western desert of Deir Ezzor.
Warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out a series of airstrikes on hideouts of ISIS in the eastern Homs countryside and the western desert of Deir Ezzor in support of the new operation. The airstrikes claimed the lives of eight terrorists and wounded at least ten others.
The pressure mounted by government forces and their allies have forced ISIS cells in central Syria to temporary halt their operations. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the terrorist group’s insurgency will be over soon.
In the southern region, the security situation appears to be deteriorating, once again. Two attacks were reported in Daraa’s eastern countryside.
On January 18, unidentified gunmen attacked a checkpoint of the SAA’s 52nd Brigade and the Air Force Intelligence Directorate near the town of Mlaiha al-Garbiah. Two service members were allegedly killed.
On January 19, at least 14 Syrian security officers were lightly wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted a bus that was carrying them as it was passing on a road between the towns of Saida and Eastern Ghariyah. The officers on their way back from the Nassib crossing on the border with Jordan to their base in the capital Damascus.