It seems that the first stage of the battle of Idlib began, as the overall expectations were about the inability of Russia and the regime to launch at this time and these local and international conditions, but it has already begun, to come back to the question again, is this battle real comprehensive or limited and agreed between multiple parties, especially the power of Astana ?!
In general, the answer to these questions during the last period was political - media consumption rather than military field.
In the past few days, the Syrian regime sent military orders to its troops in Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Homs, Daraa and even Deir ez-Zor to prepare for Idlib after the Eid holiday. 104, 105 and 106 brigades in the Republican Guard and some infantry brigades and the elite forces received instructions that their fighters should participate in the battles. These groups were trained and participated in the decisive battles in Daraa and the Damascus countryside and Aleppo, where none of them have yet deployed on the Idlib fronts. some Armored forces and infantry lack experience but nevertheless achieved clear progress in the control of Kafr Nbouda, al-Madiq Fortress, and other areas.
Iran also ordered its military groups to prepare for any emergency in Syria, where the media showed pictures that it said were for the Iraqi al-Hashd al-Shaabi groups that go beyond the Syrian border towards Deir ez-Zor to meet the expected shortfall if Iran entered its local groups in the Idlib war, in the Syrian Badia if the bases of concentration there change, where the Iranian groups are expected to participate in the second phase of the battle of Idlib, which is being prepared for a while, and will include areas in the west and south of Aleppo. In total, Iran has military groups with some 120,000 members, mostly Syrians, led by commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Russia, however, does not appear to be actually involved in the battles so far, where participation was limited to guidance, reconnaissance and air strikes, and again used the security companies to portray their elements as Russian soldiers on the battlefield and the Russian leadership thanked them for their role in the battle of Kafr Nabouda, Its bases and military airport in Humimim witnessed intensive military movements during the last few days, where the arrival of a number of military commanders and Russian soldiers to Syria, along with the establishment of military points (real) in the town of Tal Rifat in the areas of Shahba in the northern countryside of Aleppo and reinforced by a number of soldiers and weapons in a clear agreement contrary to what was previously agreed with Turkey on the granting of Tal Rifat to Turkey in exchange for bridge vacancy and some other areas in Idlib, the Russian action in Shahba until the moment was seen as to maintain the current situation in the region, especially Afrin until the completion of the Battle of Idlib, where the pressures exerted by Russia from time to time on Afrin Liberation Forces to ease its operations against the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries in Afrin and al-Shahba are clear.
Many of the field commanders in the army of the Syrian regime said during their field meetings with their soldiers in the Idlib and Hama axes that the battle of Idlib must be ended within three months.
According to intelligence reports, the regime and Russia divided the battle of Idlib into four stages: the first phase in the south of Idlib, north of Hama and north of Latakia, aimed at breaking the first defense lines of the Turkish gunmen, the second phase aimed at opening the fronts of western and southern Aleppo, parallel with progress in al-Habit and Latakia axes, the goal will be to reach the main cities located on the international lines, including Saraqib, Ma'rat al-Nu'man, Khan Sheikun and Jisr al-Shughur, and the final phase will extend south of Idlib and the regime's forces will enter the northern areas of Idlib and reach the Turkish border.
Regardless of the success of the regime's plan and Russia, the battle of Idlib will definitively determine the nature of the solution that Russia wants to impose on the armed forces of Turkey in the next stage. The test of dealing with civilians will be a key determinant of avoiding the international arguments in strengthening Turkey's hand inside Syria, Russia's influence, and block Moscow's plans to control the whole of Syrian geography.
In the face of Russia's attempts to evacuate as many civilians as possible in Idlib towards the control areas of the regime in Hama and Aleppo through the crossings declared at the beginning of the battle and trying to obtain UN support to supervise or recognize these crossings, Turkey and its mercenaries worked through an intensive media campaign and social media have been able to warn civilians to return to the regime. They have published news and statistics about those who lost their lives in regime jails when they returned during the past period. The Turkish mercenary groups also prevented a number of families, on the other hand, Turkey has entered through its crossings with Syria a large number of foreign media to the Idlib region to cover the news of massacres and tragedy committed by the regime's aircraft and Russia against civilians, and also worked to close the border and prevent the entry of fleeing the war to its territory this time. Turkey seems to have changed the way it exploits displaced people. In the battle of Idlib, they prefer the survival of civilians there. They know that the regime will not hesitate about committing massacres. By pursuing this behavior, it aims to exploit more civilians to put pressure on the regime and Russia, and using images of tragedy to gain international legitimacy for its presence in the region by claiming to protect civilians.
In the military side, Turkey used its intelligence and financial influence to pressure the mercenary factions, including Haet Tahrir al-Sham, and held several meetings in Turkey and Syria to unite them in the face of the regime's campaign, and provided them with more weapons and military maps, Russian intelligence reports confirmed during the battle to recover Kafr Nbouda that Turkey is the one that coordinated the attack by the factions and provided the artillery cover. It also shot down a Russian reconnaissance aircraft. It also ignored all the Turkish support for the former factions, including supplying them with Grad rockets targeting the Humimim base itself.
For Turkey, Idlib is more than a region where its mercenary factions and a number of military points are based. It is the base from which to control the entire northwest of Syria from Idlib, Hama, Aleppo, and the Syrian coast, threatening Russian interests in the Mediterranean If Moscow turns on Turkey and affected its presence on the Syrian territory in the next phase, Turkey can also by adhering to Idlib completion of its project in the formation of a buffer zone from Syria, extending from Jrablos to the borders of Latakia and Hama, Turkey is repeatedly trying to remind Russia of its experience in Afghanistan, Finish the rest of the moderate factions that have not yet established themselves in the Turkish embrace, in parallel with the rearrangement of the ranks of the militant mercenary factions, and their support directly and publicly.
Russia seems to be fed up with Turkish plans and is fully aware that extending its agreements with Turkey under these conditions will bring more trouble to it than it does at a time when it considers it not in its favor in the Syrian crisis. Turkey's expansion in the northwest of Syria means stabilizing the NATO presence in the region and the threat of Russian interests. Moscow also has more power and forces in the battle of Idlib for its benefit in the light of all fronts, where the card of the existence of Jabhat al-Nusra on the agenda of the international parties, which apparently will not leave that card to the promises of Turkey, which quickly will become Turkish settlement plans and occupation in the region.
In general, it is not entirely clear whether the regime's moves and mobilization with Russia and Iran on the one hand, Turkish military interventions and diplomatic pressure, the unification of their mercenary factions and their arming on the other will lead to total disconnection between the parties of Astana, but what is certain is that a major battle may be in stages Some political, military, and diplomatic brakes are on the horizon. What is more certain is that there is no return to the first triangle in the field relationship between the armed parties under conditions that open up only the military option between the parties.
Whether Turkey has accepted or not, it seems to think carefully about Putin's speech just one day after the end of the 12th Astana summit, "it does not rule out a major military operation in Idlib," an assertion of what Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said about a year ago "It is necessary to get rid of the" festering wound" in the Syrian Idlib.