Russia Deploys Military Police to Highway That Erdogan Demands Syrian Army Gives Back to Al-Qaeda
The Russians are coming
Russian military police units were deployed in the city of Sarakeb in Syria to ensure security, the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the warring parties in the SAR said .
“Given the importance of ensuring the safety and unhindered movement of vehicles and civilians along the M4 – M5 highways, Russian military police units have been deployed in the city of Sarakeb from 5 pm on March 2,” the report said.4
Russian MPs at one time deployed to then Kurdish-held northwestern corner of Syria around the town of Afrin. They are no longer there, instead Afrin is under the boot of the Turkish military and the ex-rebel Syrian Islamists on their payroll.
That is to say that Russian MPs are not necessarily a fail-safe Turkey-stopping device.
Nonetheless, if Erdogan is demanding a Syrian withdrawal to 2019 positions, and the Syrians instead recapture a critical town from him, and hours later Russian MPs start deploying in the same town — that does send a message.
It also presents a physical obstacle to renewed Turkish assault, unless Erdogan wants to risk killing Russians. It is perhaps the Russians mimicking his own moves, as Erdogan has deployed his troops as shields for the jihadi rebels, so the Russians are now shielding the Syrian army with their own.
And from the Russian perspective, this is all perfectly in line with the prior Russian-Turkish Sochi Agreement of 2018. That deal foresaw the opening of the Damascus-Aleppo M5 highway through Idlib guaranteed by Turkey. Since Erdogan failed to do so, the Russian MPs will now do it for him.
Indeed there are a few signs that the Russians are active in the background and do not intend to allow Erdogan to easily reverse the outcome of this latest Russian-Syrian offensive:
Mass transfer: 8 Il-76 arrived in Khmeimim, as well as a group of air defense officers🇷🇺🇸🇾
3 Il-76 transport aircraft of RuAF arrived in Khmeimim in Syrian province of Latakia on night of March 1 to 2. In general, over past 72 hours, 8 aircraft of this type have landed at AFB. pic.twitter.com/2aSNZPeNDi
— Sukhoi Su-57 Felon 🇷🇺🇮🇳 (@I30mki) March 2, 2020
A final Syrian showdown looms: Heavily laden #ВМФ Project 775 #RussianNavy #ЧФ Black Sea Fleet 197th Landing Ship Brigade’s Ropucha class LSTM (tank carrying landing ship) Novocherkassk 142 transits Bosphorus towards Mediterranean en route to #Tartus #Syria. 14:00Z pic.twitter.com/7ZzLkH23IR
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) March 2, 2020
First videos/photos of the MPs in Saraqib:
Russian military police have begun patrolling the M5 highway from Seraqib with Rys and Typhoon-K vehicles. Their presence will obviously complicate future Turkish air strikes against SAA forces on the M5. 140/https://t.co/E9HCczhCPJ pic.twitter.com/PD8vLRlXav
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) March 3, 2020