Relations between Turkey and Russia are going through an even rougher patch than when Turkmen militia shot down a Russian pilot in Syria in November 2015.

This time, on 1 February 2020, the Turkey-controlled militia killed four FSB officials in Aleppo: Lieutenant Vsevolod Vyacheslavovich Trofimov, Commander Bulat Rinatovich Akhmatyanov ("C" division) , as well as Commander Ruslan Gimadiev and Captain Dmitriy Minov ("K" Division).

Caught in an ambush, they were captured by a militia commando unit when their armored vehicle hit a land mine and shot down.

At the same time, always in Aleppo, another militia unit attacked journalists working for two Iranian TV stations.

The next day, this time in Idlib, a clash between the Syrian and Turkish armies left 4 people dead and 9 others wounded on the Turkish side. The incident was followed by a response which, according to Turkey, claimed 30 to 35 lives on the Syrian side, an allegation denied by Damascus.

Turkish forces had moved to Idlib governorate without notifying the Russian General Staff, in violation of the agreement between the two parties. Besides the fact that Syria is on her own turf while Turkey is occupying her territory, Ankara has violated the Sochi Agreements and therefore cannot expect any help from Russia.

The situation in Idlib is turning to the advantage of Syria which has managed in recent days to regain control of the M4 motorway connecting Aleppo to Latakia, by liberating Maarat al-Nouman and Nayrab.

Turkish army observation posts are currently surrounded by the Syrian army: Morek (since August 2019), Surman (since December 23), and latterly Hich/Maar Heitat.

These developments occurred just as the Turkish secret services had started transferring 2,500 jihadists from Idlib (Syria) to Tripoli (Libya), via Djerba (Tunisia). Another 30,000 jihadists are ready to leave, but their departure has been cancelled following the Berlin conference on Libya.