Armed Groups Planning False-Flag Attacks in Syria’s Idlib

The Cradle

As Turkiye turns its back on the opposition to restore ties with Syria, extremist attacks are expected to stay on the rise

Major General Oleg Yegorov, the deputy head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Reconciliation Center in Syria, said on 24 January that ‘Takfiri terrorists’ are planning to carry out several false-flag attacks in the northern governorate of Idlib in order to implicate Moscow and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Yegorov said that the Reconciliation Center received intelligence that militants plan to instigate tensions in Idlib’s de-escalation zone by disrupting joint patrols being carried out by the SAA and the Russian military.

According to the Russian general, armed groups are stockpiling military vehicles, drones, and rocket-launching systems near the villages of Al-Ziyarah, Kafrinjah, and Karkur, with the intention of launching attacks and provoking a response from Syrian and Russian soldiers.

“Subsequently, the militants plan to publish videos on social media networks that would show damage to civilian infrastructure. They would then accuse the Russian and Syrian military forces of indiscriminate strikes on the territories controlled by them,” Yegorov said, adding that this serves as an attempt to create a pretext for military action against Damascus.

Over the past year, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria has exposed several plots by armed groups to commit indiscriminate false-flag attacks – including chemical attacks – which are aimed at pinning the blame on the Syrian government.

The uncovering of this latest plot comes as extremist militant groups, mainly Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) – formerly known as the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front – have been stepping up attacks against the SAA in rejection of recent Russian-mediated efforts to broker a reconciliation of ties between Syria and Turkiye.

Syria’s armed opposition, particularly HTS, has expressed grave disapproval and a major sense of betrayal by Turkiye’s recent diplomatic approach with Syria. In turn, Ankara has seemingly turned its back on HTS and the extremist opposition in a gesture of seriousness regarding the rapprochement process with Damascus.

Earlier this month, Omer Celik, a spokesperson for Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), said that Turkiye “does not want an Afghanistan on its southern borders,” signifying the recent U-turn in Turkish policy regarding Syria.

On 25 January, The Cradle received exclusive information that the Syrian, Russian, and Turkish militaries – in coordination with the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) coalition – may soon be forced to launch an inevitable joint-operation to clear HTS from the M4 international highway.