by our Arab Affairs correspondent

SYRIAN FORCES are assembling in northern Latakia for what may be the build-up for the long-awaited offensive against the terrorist gangs amid reports that Chinese troops may soon be deployed to assist the Syrian Arab Army in its next big push.

The Idlib enclave, which exists under the covert protection of the Turkish army, has been in the hands of sectarian gunmen since the start of the conflict in 2011. But while the Syrian troops are expected to launch probing attacks in the next few weeks any major offensive will likely wait for the arrival of crack units currently mopping up ISIS cells still operating in the southern deserts.

Meanwhile a senior Syrian scientist that the imperialists claim was a chemical weapons expert was assassinated last weekend. Dr Aziz Asbar, the director of the Syrian Scientific Research Centre (SSRC), died in a car bomb attack on Saturday. His driver was also killed. The SSRC, run by Asbar, had been the target of at least two Israeli air raids over the past few months. Many suspect that he was killed by agents of Israeli intelligence. Back in the 1980s, the Israelis, hand in glove with the Muslim Brotherhood which today constitutes the backbone of the Syrian wings of Al Qaeda, murdered a number of scientists as well as many doctors, journalists, engineers and experts across Syria.

Bogus claims that China has been secretly giving Syria military assistance in its war against terror have regularly appeared in the imperialist media over the past few years. But they were given slightly more credence last week when China’s ambassador to Syria, Qin Qianjin, told Syria’s Al Watan newspaper that the Chinese military may soon join the conflict as the Syrian government, along with its allies, sets its sights on retaking the parts of Syria that remain under the control of extremist groups, like Idlib province.

Qianjin stated that, after the Syrian government’s victory in retaking Syria’s Daraa province and other southern territories from opposition forces, China’s “military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian army that is fighting the terrorists in Idlib and in any other part of Syria” though this would require a “political decision”.

China’s position was further clarified by the Chinese military attache in Damascus, who said there was “ongoing” military cooperation between the two countries but there were no Chinese military advisers or special forces in Syria at the moment.

While the Syrian army and the people’s militias step up the pressure on the sectarian gunmen to lay down their arms or leave the country efforts to restore national government in the Syrian-Kurdish areas currently under the protection of US imperialism continue.

Last month the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia and the Syrian Democratic Council that run most of the Syria’s Kurdish provinces north of the Euphrates river, agreed to “chart a road-map” with the Syrian government towards a “democratic, decentralised Syria” to help restore the shattered economy and infrastructure in their reā€¢gion whose autonomy was recognised in by the central government in 2012.

Russia is also intensifying its contacts with various Kurdish movements. A delegation of the International Federation of Kurdish Communities met Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in the Kremlin on 4th August. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the sides “discussed the pressing issues in the Middle East with an emphasis on the Kurdish issues in the context of developments in Iraq and Syria, including the need to consolidate international efforts in countering ISIS and other terrorist groups”.