The U.S. military has conducted rare, large-scale exercises with allied Syrian rebels at a time when Washington was urging Russia and Iran to restrain their ally from pursuing a major operation against an Islamist-led insurgency elsewhere in the country.
Colonel Muhanad al-Talaa, commander of the Pentagon-sponsored Maghawir al-Thawra rebel group, told Reuters on Thursday that his forces had just completed the first training of its kind with the U.S. military, which oversaw saw hundreds of insurgents and U.S. troops participate in eight days of simulated assaults from land and air. He said the drills "have a big importance and have beefed up the defenses of the area and raised the combat capabilities and morale and that of civilians" in the U.S.-controlled deconfliction zone around Al-Tanf in southern Syria.
Talaa warned that the rebels "are staying whether the Russians or Iranians want or not." If Iranian or Iran-backed militias operating in support of Assad approached the restricted area, "there is a big likelihood they will be hit" by U.S. airstrikes, he added.
While a cautious calm surrounded Idlib on Thursday as Turkey tried to stave off an anticipated Syrian military assault, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova criticized U.S. threats against Assad and his government, noting the drills in the Al-Tanf, where the U.S. was "illegally located in the territory of Syria."
"We see in the event surrounding Syria an attempt by the Americans to work out a new mechanism for ensuring their own world domination. The essence is to create a shock coalition of the leading Western powers in order to demonstrate the strength and attitude to provide a military solution to the problems that arise in this or that part of the world," Zakharova told journalists at a press briefing, noting that such a move undermined the U.N. charter.
"In our deep conviction, this approach, capable of putting the world on the brink of a precipice, is a dangerous challenge not only for Syria. It must be confronted in the most determined manner, combining the efforts of all sensible members of the international community," she added.
Washington and its allies have also warned Syria that they will act not just in case of chemical weapons being used, but against any attack on the province, the US envoy to the UN said. "Any offensive on the civilian people in Idlib was going to be dealt with," Haley told Fox News' Bret Baier.
As has been repeatedly stated here- The US/French/Israeli Kurdish proxies are the biggest beneficiaries of any attack on Idlib- They are waiting for the opportunity. This is why there has been no moves made on Idlib by the SAA and Russia.
You can watch her making this very statement in the video below- Start at around 2:00 minutes in. She states the 'sternest warning' came down from most members of the Security Council This explains all the hype today about the operation for Idlib being set to go.
I've written so much about Idlib this last little while- I'm not sure what else to say? At least for today! I'll just relink the previous posts which go back into August: