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Revealed: A two-man PMC unit in Syria

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January 10 · Issue #72 · View online
MENAroundup
MENAroundup
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq. lars@menaroundup.com

Notions
  • According to an official from the Iranian-led Fatemiyoun brigade, the Afghan militia has lost more than 2.000 men in Syria while more than 8.000 have been wounded. Estimates on the group’s overall size are mostly between 12-14.000. That relation illustrates the intense and costly use of the Afghan proxy.
  • Another number: An estimated 46% of fighting-age coastal Alawites have been killed, are missing or severely wounded. 
  • Somehow, the situation in Idlib is representative for the armed opposition’s failure throughout Syria: There is no central command but ongoing rivalries. Rebel defense lines have collapsed not only due to internal strifes but also because of heavy airstrikes. Pro-regime forces are now close to the Abu al-Duhur Airbase, which is the regime’s first objective in its efforts to seize Idlib. Meanwhile, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham continues to harass government structures and institutions like the Free Idlib University. 
  • One must not forget the humanitarian implications: According to UN data, more than 2.5 million people are holding out in Idlib. Such data is hard to proof and the real numbers might be lower. Anyway, tens of thousands of civilians are trapped and try to flee the regime’s offensive. 
  • Turkey is not happy with the situation in Idlib. Erdoğan recently changed his rhetoric, calling Bashar al-Assad a ‘terrorist’ who hinders peace. Now, Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu said that the regime would only target mainstream groups and not Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Turkey summoned both the Russian and Iranian ambassador to protest the offensive that violates the nominal de-escalation zone that the three countries were meant to guarantee. 
  • Even though rebels cannot stand the regime’s firepower in open-field battles, the insurgency is anything but over. The drone attacks on Russia’s airbase in Latakia that killed Russian personal and damaged warplanes give an idea how the asymmetric warfare might look like.
Articles worth reading
Turan — a new private military company fighting in Syria or an elaborate hoax?
Virtual Caliphate Rebooted: The Islamic State’s Evolving Online Strategy
Russian soldiers in Damascus: politics isn’t everything
The story of Idlib is being rewritten by the Syrian regime, but facts matter
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