first published on January 15, 2018 by Sean
The Jihad journalist gives another dramatic report from inside the Idlib rebel pocket in Syria. Cluster bombs and artillery rounds chaotically rain down around him as he nonchalantly reports the news.
So, there’s this kind of crazy reporter working in Syria right now. We got our first look at him a few weeks ago as he casually gave a report during a bombing of the formally al-Qaeda held town of Abu Dali. Back in action and in front of the camera as the SAA continues its offensive against the rebels and jihadists in Idlib – this jihad journalist gives another dramatic report with cluster bombs and artillery rounds exploding all around him and his equally gutsy cameraman.
The segment begins wildly with the reporter boldly standing in a field, the deadly saturation of a cluster bomb blankets the earth just a hundred or so meters behind him. A few moments later, the cannister that disperses the bomblets lands even closer. Its tail noticeably sticking out of the ground while the cameraman ensures several angles are captured of the reporter and his close call with the deadly ordinance. Appearing to switch to another field, the journalists now find themselves in the midst of an ongoing artillery barrage. Large caliber shells audible howl as they fly overhead and continue to rain down around them. Several explosions from the artillery land within just meters of the two-man crew, one after the other.
With ISIS largely confined to the desolate Syrian eastern desert and a few small land claims isolated around the country, the SAA has been able to redirect and mobilize several offensive units against al-Qaeda rebranded Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Idlib. HTS had become the dominant jihadist group inside the rebel stronghold – which also encompasses several Turkish military “de-escalation” zones. Turkey actively supports the “moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Turkish troops occupy positions in Idlib. However, rumors of Turkish links to HTS and other jihadist groups in the province persist, adding to the geo-political complexity of the region.
The apparent aim of the SAA is to liberate the Abu Duhur Airbase in Idlib – which was captured by HTS in 2015. This would provide the SAA with a critical and useful forward airbase while carving out and isolating a second rebel pocket in the area. The problem is, Turkey isn’t too happy that the SAA and their Russian allies have redirected its efforts into the formally Turkish dominated Idlib sphere of influence. With the recent SAA invasion into the province, moderate and extremist alike have purportedly coalesced under the leadership of HTS to combat the regime operation.