London- Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu landed in Syria’s Moscow-operated Hmeimim Air Base near Latakia after having met Syrian regime head Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus last Tuesday. Kurdish People’s Protection Units Commander Saban Hamo also landed at the airbase, in what would turn out to be the first meeting of a kind between a Russian official and a Syrian Kurdish military leader.
When meeting Assad, Shoigu congratulated pro-regime forces, which include foreign militias coming in from both Iran and Lebanon, for lifting the blockade off Deir Az-Zor. Regime forces and Iranian proxy militias receive constant Russian aerial coverage.
Shoigu also reviewed the forces’ preparedness to cross the Euphrates River and challenge the extent of US commitment to allied Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) units.
Assad was briefed on Moscow’s decision to approve the deployment of Turkish military supervisors in Idlib as part of a plan to dismantle Tahrir al-Sham, which encompasses ex-Fatah al-Sham branches.
The Russian defense minister is also believed to have informed Damascus of Moscow-Tehran talks held by Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. At the talks, a Russian-Iranian settlement agreed to expand the circle of field monitors to include Iranians, so that Russians and Iranians establish a “buffer zone” between opposition factions, supervising Turks and regime forces in Aleppo’s countryside, Hama, Latakia and Idlib.
One of the objectives of the Turkish intervention in Idlib is to prevent Kurdish reach to stretch from northern Aleppo to Latakia and the Mediterranean Sea.
Turkey has successfully prevented the establishing of a strong Kurdish base after having separated northern Kurdish zones in Syria by preventing communication between Kobani -east of the Euphrates River- and Afrin on the western riverbank.
The segregation was carried out by a Turkish military intervention in Syria, code-named by Turkey as Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Aleppo.
Shoigu’s meeting with Kurdish Commander Hamo focused on swaying SDF units away from Washington and closer to Moscow in the next battle.
It goes without saying that Washington efforts succeeded in Iraq’s Mosul and is about to defeat ISIS in its eastern Syria stronghold, Raqqa.
The US-led international coalition is making achievements against perhaps the most dangerous organization in the world. Moscow is therefore looking for a parallel victory in Deir Ezzour.
Not only is President Vladimir Putin taking credit for dislodging ISIS from Syria’s historic city of Palmyra, and is seeking a similar victory in Deir Az-Zor, but also wants to set up a role for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units.
According to Western diplomatic sources, a large part of the Shoigu- Hamo meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half, focused on the war against terrorism and the upcoming Deir Ezzour battle.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Washington has made the war on terrorism a global issue, and Moscow wants a big victory that is equivalent to American victories.