Idlib is the last major province, excluding parts of Latakia and Aleppo, that are under rebel control. The Syrian army (SAA) will have to adopt new tactics for retaking what remains of this "Greater Idlib" area of rebel control. Turkey is now heavily involved in Idlib's defense alongside HTS/AQ and what remains of the FSA. The main factor preventing an SAA advance are Turkish drones and to a lesser extent artillery fire.
In early 2020, dozens of SAA tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed by the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone. Artillery strikes from Turkish T-155 SPGs were also used to hit SAA positions. This led to the SAA temporarily retreating from Saraqib and its surrounds, leaving many tanks behind which the rebels then captured.
Turkish T-155 155mm self propelled howitzer in Idlib.
With Turkish drones in the air and rebel tanks on the ground, the SAA will need to adapt. Tactics to retake Idlib will have to include many ATGMs and air defense systems, as well as other more unconventional tactics. The most capable air defense system to down Turkish drones is the Buk-M2E. Syria operates at least 10 Buk-M2Es. These have a medium range for an air defense system with a high flight altitude for its missiles, able to reach all Turkish drones. The Buk-M2E is also resistant to jamming, which is important due to Turkey's Koral electronic warfare system likely being used in Idlib.
A Syrian Air Defense Buk-M2E.
SAA ATGMs would be needed in large numbers to destroy rebel armored vehicles and potentially Turkish armored vehicles in they got in the way. Though destroying Turkish armor may cause a disproportionate reaction from Turkey. However, Turkish vehicles were destroyed in Idlib in early 2020 and there was little reaction other than an increase in drone activity.
A destroyed Turkish M-60T in Idlib.
SAA Konkurs ATGM.
Once an SAA offensive begins on Idlib, Turkish drones will be deployed en mass to try to put a halt to it. The SAA should set up dummy tanks and artillery to give false targets for Turkish drones. The SAA has already begun doing this. Seen below is a dummy tank set up to fool drones in Idlib. This must be done in large numbers.
Real SAA tanks should be stationed under structures and brush when not on the move to avoid airstrikes from drones. Tanks could also employ brush camouflage or a camouflage canopy mounted to the tank.
A T-62 covered with brush in Idlib.
Multispectral (infrared/visible) camouflage canopies should be built on SAA tanks to hide them from drones. These tanks would be very difficult to spot in the brush and small towns of Idlib. They certainly don't look like tanks from the air. ISIS built tanks like this with unknown effectiveness. This canopy method could even be used on 4X4 technicals mounting heavy machine guns.
A T-55 with a camouflage canopy.
A T-72 with a canopy.
SAA artillery must be hidden under camouflage netting as well. Artillery pieces are sitting ducks, this was proven in Idlib in early 2020 and during the Armenia/Azerbaijan conflict in mid to late 2020.
An artillery piece under camouflage netting.
The most unconventional tactic is to dress up SAA tanks to look like Turkish tanks. T-55s and T-62s would be the best candidates to be built up and painted to look like Turkish M-60T tanks. Alternatively the T-72 could be built up to look like the Turkish Leopard 2A4 as well as the M-60T. This could allow the tanks to sneak into parts of Idlib undetected by air. They would also not be engaged by rebels, who would think it was the Turkish army. If this plan were to work, rebel forces may celebrate the arrival of the tanks into towns they occupy, only to come under attack soon after. The Germans attempted this in WWII, dressing up Panther tanks to look like American M10 tank destroyers during the Battle of the Bulge. Mock up tanks could lead the charge, complete with Turkish flags to fool rebels. This would be followed by the main SAA force under camouflage canopies.
A Panther tank disguised as an American M10.
Tanks have been dressed up as other tank models for movies as well. In the 1984 "Red Dawn" movie, T-72A tanks are made out of American M-48 Patton tanks and are fairly convincing to the untrained eye. It even fooled a pair of CIA officers, who followed the tank mock up through Los Angeles and asked the producers where they obtained a T-72!
A "T-72A" mockup built on the core of an M-48 Patton in the movie "Red Dawn." The smoke dischargers are off, it's armed with a DShK instead of an NSV and there should have been a sideskirt to cover the return rollers. Other than those flaws it is a very convincing "T-72A."
A Syrian T-72 could be built to look like a Turkish tank, such as the M-60T. It could be built with sheet metal and for the turret and rubber for the sideskirts. Various false pieces of equipment would be built on, such as fake sights and four fake smoke dischargers on each side of the turret. It would also be beneficial to fly Turkish flags on each tank. The flag is mostly to help fool rebel ground forces.
With these tactics Idlib could be recaptured and the rebel forces completely defeated in Syria. Turkish observation posts would be besieged by the SAA advance, but this has happened before. The Turkish troops will simply abandon these posts once they are besieged, as has happened in the recent past.
An abandoned Turkish observation post in Southern Idlib. An SAA T-72AV sits victorious.