Indications of the Syrian regime's shelling of IDP camps northern Idlib
On Sunday morning, November 6, 2022, the Syrian regime forces targeted 6 camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) near the Kafr Jalis area, north of Idlib, close to the Turkish border, namely: Maram, Watan, Wadi Hajj Khaled, Kafr Rouhin, Murin, and Ba'aba.
The regime forces stationed in Goren camp in Latakia countryside used about 17 Uragan "ground-to-surface" missiles loaded with internationally banned cluster munitions. This led to the killing of 9 civilians, including 3 children and a woman; and wounding about 70 others.
The weapons used to target IDP camps show that the regime intended to cause severe damage among civilians.
It seems that the regime's allies, Moscow and Tehran sought, by launching such attacks, to pressure Turkey in order to achieve political and economic gains in the ongoing negotiations between the regime and Ankara.
Such attacks inflame public opinion against Turkey in the areas of opposition; as Turkey is a guarantor which is supposedly the safeguard of the camps, which are expected to be the safest areas compared to the rest of the civilian and residential places. These attacks also destabilize border security by pushing IDPs to migrate again in the event of repeated bombing.
The regime’s supporters are also trying, through this bombing, to exploit Turkey’s pressing need that is to maintain a state of calm in northwest Syria in order to facilitate the return of more refugees and consequently achieve gains: such as developing contacts between the regime and Ankara by lifting up contacts to a political or diplomatic level; opening crossings link the regime’s areas with opposition’s; and withdrawing or redeploying Turkish forces in northwest Syria.
This shelling shows that the regime has not and will not change its behavior, nor would it hesitate to use its full firepower against civilians, be it to subdue them or to send messages to other players.
As expected, Turkey tended to contain the escalation at least rhetorically by issuing a statement condemning the bombing of IDP camps on November 8, 2022, without blaming the regime and its allies; through calling upon the "concerned parties" to abide by the agreements.
Moreover, the Turkish Foreign Minister's remarks about his country's intention to raise the level of relations between Turkey and the Syrian regime from collaboration in intelligence to a diplomatic exchange after making an assessment of the current situation in order to make sure that there is an "appropriate environment" for doing that. Such a step has been taken as an attempt to control the regime's behavior through diplomatic efforts. This comes in light of the Turkish government's focus on availing the appropriate atmosphere for holding the presidential elections.
All in all, this bombing comes within the framework of efforts made by regime’s supporters to push Turkey to show flexibility in the Syrian file and in other files as well. This is also to remind Ankara that the regime's supporters can confuse things further in northern Syria. As such, these intentions may defect external the Turkish the internal and foreign arrangements ahead of the upcoming elections.