The situation in the north of Syria in the coming days may become seriously tense. Turkey has deployed to hundreds of military border. More than 200 trucks delivered ammunition, weapons and special equipment to Idlib province. RIA Nov-osti reports on the risks of another exacerbation.
Turkey plans to advance on a wide front to close t-wo-thirds of the 910-kilometer border. Judging by the photos on social networks, Ankara does not waste time on trifles: tanks, artillery, multiple launch r-ocket systems, and air de-fense systems are being tr-ansferred to Syria. The last time the region was pum-ped up with troops and equ-ipment in this way was in the winter of 2020 – before Operation Spring Shield.
First of all, analysts say, Ankara wants to neutralize the threat from the Kurds who have settled in northern Syria. In 2016-2019, the Turks captured several areas there and today control the border from Bandar Khan to Ras al-Ein, as well as from Jerabulus to the Mediterranean coast.
However, the territory between Jerabulus and Bandar Khan has been in the hands of the Kurdish YPG for many years. One of the main targets of the upcoming operation is the border town of Kobani, 415 kilometers northeast of Damascus. The Kurds have been defending it since 2012: first from IS *, and then from the Turkish army.
According to Bloomberg, Ankara is going to take over the area south of Kobani in order to link the two regions under its control and to further gain a foothold in northern Syria. The formal reason for the military operation is the attacks of the Kurds on the Turkish security forces. “The last attack on our policemen and sorties aimed at our lands have already exhausted the cup of patience,” Erdogan said.
The second, less obvious goal of Ankara is to cover its proxies in Idlib from a possible Damascus strike. It is no secret that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in recent months has been building up a group that is trying to liberate the troubled province. A kind of layered cake was formed from the Turkish military, extremist groups controlled by Ankara, free gangs fighting against everyone, and units of the government army operating with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces.
Syrian troops launched a major offensive in the winter and spring of 2020, liberating 35 settlements, 320 square kilometers of territory. By the end of January, the CAA occupied the city of Maarrat-en-Numan in the southeast of the prov-ince, taking control of the most important section of the Hama-Aleppo road. An-d on February 5, she ente-red the key settlement of Seraqib at the intersection of the Aleppo – Hama and Aleppo – Latakia highways.
This displeased Ankara, which demanded an ultimatum from Damascus to wit-hdraw its troops to the positions they had previously occupied. Syria has not re-sponded. Therefore, the Tu-rks and their proxies atta-cked the SAA along the en-tire front. In response, on F-ebruary 27, the Syrians bo-mbed a Turkish convoy – 33 soldiers and officers were killed. After that, Ankara launched Operation Spring Shield, widely using Bayra-ktar TB2 attack drones.
The CAA retreated. The situation partially stabilized on March 5, after negotiations between the presidents of Russia and Turkey in Moscow on an armistice. Putin and Erdogan agreed to end hostilities, withdraw troops and create a security corridor along the M-4 Latakia-Aleppo highway. Also, joint patrols were organized in this area.
Russia has its own interests in the region, which do not always coincide with Turkey’s. Recently, the media published photos of a Su-35S fighter at the Kamyshly airbase in northern Syria, which was not used by Russian aviation before. In the West, this was regarded as a warning to Turkey. However, it is not yet clear how far Ankara will go.
The Turkish parliament last Tuesday extended the permission to use the army in Iraq and Syria until October 2023. This was supported by deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party, as well as the National Movement Party, while the opposition Republican People’s Party and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party opposed it. Obviously, Erdogan is betting on political allies and hopes to increase his ratings through a “small victorious war.”
However, a Turkish offe-nsive could run counter to American interests. They h-ave long and consistently supported the Syrian Ku-rds, and consider them al-lies. Probably, Ankara deci-ded to aggravate the situation in order to get addit-ional trump cards in the ne-gotiations between Erdogan and Biden, which are to be held in Glasgow within the framework of the UN conference on climate change from November 1 to 12.
It is not the first time for the Turkish leader to use military force to achieve political preferences. We will remind, Ankara has alr-eady deployed powerful m-ilitary contingents to the S-yrian borders in Septe-mber – a week before Erdogan’s meeting with Putin.