Following President Trump decision to dispatch the Marines USS Essex armed with the stealth F-35B jet fighters to Syria, the move is bearing fruit after days of relative calm in Idlib. The USS Essex possibly deterred Idlib assault because behind this decision is a clear message to Putin and Chemical Assad.
The Idlib region is home to around 3 million civilians Assad and Putin were readying to assault. Assad has been using fighter jets and helicopters dropping the indiscriminate barrel bombs against civilians. U.S. Intelligence indicated that Assad was preparing to drop chemical weapons upon the helpless civilians of Idlib.
Idlib is also home to jihadist fighters such as Tahrir al-Sham, which includes insurgents from the former al Qaeda branch in Syria.
Russia, Turkey Talking
Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey, represented by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, were meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday in a bid to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Meetings between both have been on-going for a while with limited success.
Putin told Erdogan in opening remarks carried by Russian news agencies that he and Erdogan will be “looking for solutions where there are none right now,” without mentioning Idlib by name.
Russia calls Idlib a hotbed of terrorism and says the Syrian government has the right to retake control of it. Turkey has appealed to Russia and Iran, its uneasy negotiating partners, for a diplomatic resolution to the ticking bomb. At the same time, it has sent reinforcements to its troops ringing Idlib. Experts believe the USS Essex possibly deterred Idlib assault; and that Putin is feigning negotiations in the hope the USS Essex would be sent home sooner than later.
It was quiet in Idlib and surrounding areas Monday, a continuation of the calm that started ever since the United States dispatched the USS Essex to the region. Navy Captain Brian T. Mutty is the USS Essex commanding Officer.
AP contributed to this article.