Turkey has warned the Syrian opposition groups in the north-west province of Idlib to prepare for a potential military offensive by the Assad regime and its allies Iran and Russia in the coming days, according to a former senior opposition official.
The information was revealed by the former spokesman of the New Syrian Army – now rebranded as the Revolutionary Commando Army – which is part of the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve against Daesh.
Mzahem Alsaloum wrote on Twitter today: "Turkey informs Idlib factions about a potential military operation by Russia, Iran & Assad in southern [south] of the M4 highway." He added that another source based in Damascus had told him two weeks prior "about preparations and moves in the pro-regime side for a military operation in Idlib."
As part of the ceasefire deal struck between Turkey and Russia on 5 March, it was agreed that the strategic M4 highway running through southern Idlib would form the basis of a demilitarised zone which would extend six kilometres either side of the highway.
The report comes a day after Russia conducted its first airstrike on the area of the M4 highway since the ceasefire came into effect.
Over the past few months since the deal came into effect, Turkey has also been building up its military presence in the province in anticipation of a renewed offensive, resulting in an estimated 15,000 Turkish troops and over 6,000 military vehicles having been deployed to the region.