Syrian civil war has entered a decisive phase. Russia and Iran have rejected Turkish call for a ceasefire in a trilateral summit in Tehran, instead vowed to take back last bastion of rebels in Idlib. United Nations has warned that any offensive in Northern Syria will result in a humanitarian catastrophe. The situation on the ground is complex due to the presence of multiple players. The recently held trilateral summit in Tehran between the head of the states of Iran, Syria, and Turkey was a failure as Erdogan's call for ceasefire was rejected by Vladimir Putin and Hasan Rouhani. Turkey fears that operation will further increase the inflow of the refugees to the Southern part of its territory. Ankara is already hosting 3.5 million Syrian refugees.

The North of Idlib is controlled by Turkish forces which intervened on the pretext of eliminating the threat of Kurdish militias on its border. Turkey is consistently providing arms and ammunition to Free Syrian Army (FSA). The goal of Turkey is to prolong the Russian-led offensive. Observers believe that Syrian army has started preparations for the offensive long before the trilateral summit and according to estimates it has deployed hundred thousand soldiers in the surrounding areas of the Idlib governorate. Besides, the Russian jets from Khmeimim Air Base, and Syrian jets from Homs Air base are regularly targeting the rebel positions in the outskirts of Idlib.

The FSA has Turkish supplied grad rockets and according to local sources after the failure of the Tehran summit, Ankara has increased its supplies of grad rockets and small ammunition to the rebels. Russia has superior military weaponry in terms of technology and endurance. The state of the art Su 34 fighters which played vital role in taking back ISIS and rebel held areas will also be used in the coming offensive. In addition to this, the Russian Special Forces, Spetsnaz are currently providing intelligence and guerilla support to Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Moreover, Iran is well entrenched in Syria. Its revolutionary guards external corps, Al-Quds force is fighting side by side with the SAA. The Al-Quds force has played an instrumental role in turning the tide of conflict in the favor of Bashar al-Assad. The Al-Quds force commander General Suleimani has been seen many times on the frontline areas of operations against the Islamic State and rebels. Israel has deep reservations about Iranian military infrastructure in Syria, primarily near Golan Heights and has also targeted it few times.

Colonol Suheil al-Hassan, the notorious commander of Syrian Arab Army’s elite division called 'The Tiger' force was recently seen raising the morale of his troops in the city of Aleppo. Under the command of Suheil al-Hassan, tiger forces has successfully cleared vital areas from rebels like Eastern Ghouta, and regions near Golan Heights. Currently, Tiger forces stationed in Aleppo are preparing for a major assault on Eastern Idlib. Russia, which awarded its highest military award to Colonol Suheil al-Hassan, has full confidence in his commanding abilities. Furthermore, Russian elite forces are protecting Tiger division commander from multiple threats to his life. 

Turkey has set up 12 observation posts that encircles the whole Idlib governorate. What will be the reaction of Turkey if Syrian Army backed by Russia and Iran launches a major assault on Idlib, will they retaliate or not? And if they fight Syrian Army than what will be Russia's role, will Russian jets pound Turkish observations posts, which serves as mini military bases. In any case, confrontation will lead to a full scale war which will be detrimental to regional and international peace. 

The United States envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley has warned Iran and Russia of dire consequences over Syria military assault. United States naval destroyer has arrived in the Mediterranean. Political analysts believes that Washington has little leverage over Russian in Syria. Pentagon has suspended its one billion dollar operation of supporting and training moderate rebels in Syria due to its growing unpopularity and ineffectiveness. Many of the supplied weapons ended with pro Al-Qaeda group, the Al-Nusra front. Though on ground the presence of US is limited but it can strike Assad forces from tomahawk missiles. It is still unclear that whether Russia will or not use its S400 air defense system to stop incoming missiles.

All key players of the Syrian civil war, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the United States should resolve the issue through negotiations. Idlib is home to more than 3 million people including huge population of women and children. The protection of civilians should be the foremost priority of regional and international players involved in the Syrian civil war.