ALEPPO — The Turkish military has intensified its assaults in opposition to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria over the previous few weeks.
Turkish airstrikes have focused for assassination distinguished discipline commanders, whereas Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions have launched heavy artillery and missiles at SDF-held areas.
Meanwhile, FSA factions have elevated navy readiness and mobilized extra forces on the frontlines.
These developments have raised questions concerning the targets behind the escalation and on the opportunity of a Turkish-backed navy operation in opposition to the SDF, which is backed by the US-led worldwide coalition.
Since October 2019, areas of northeast Syria have been subjected to a Turkish-Russian settlement to move the SDF 30 kilometers again from the Turkish-Syrian border and conduct joint Russian-Turkish patrols.
The Turkish military seemingly adopted a brand new technique in its current escalation in opposition to the SDF by counting on drone assaults to focus on distinguished SDF commanders.
Simultaneously, Turkish forces stationed at Turkish bases in Syria shelled SDF positions in Tal Tamr, Abu Rasin, and in different villages and cities near the demarcation line within the Hasakah countryside, which has witnessed large-scale civilian displacement because of the shelling.
Since mid-August, Turkish forces and the FSA have even focused Manbij within the japanese Aleppo countryside and the outskirts of Ain Issa within the northern Raqqa countryside, the place dozens rallied Sept. 1 in entrance of the Russian navy base to protest the Turkish bombardment of the city and its surrounding areas.
An FSA navy official based mostly within the metropolis of Ras al-Ain within the Hasakah countryside advised Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity, “The FSA factions have increased their military readiness on the battlefronts with the SDF in Ras al-Ain countryside since mid-August. The Turkish army oversaw the operations to redeploy the forces along the demarcation line with the SDF.”
He added, “The military alert was not limited to the FSA-held areas east of the Euphrates, but also involved the Aleppo countryside west of the Euphrates in the Jarablus countryside and al-Bab city. Military battalions were formed under the supervision of the Turkish army, each tasked with guarding a specific demarcation line. A Turkish military backup will allow these battalions to deal with any sudden development on the ground.”
The supply continued, “Also, Turkish military reinforcements arrived at most of the demarcation lines with the SDF, including armored vehicles, artillery bases and missiles.”
For his half, Maj. Yusuf Hamoud, a spokesperson for the FSA-affiliated Syrian National Army, advised Al-Monitor, “The Turkish army and the FSA are targeting the SDF operation centers because their forces continue to bombard civilian areas in the Aleppo countryside and the Operation Peace Spring areas. It is thus necessary to deal with the sources of the shelling. It is normal to take these military measures.”
Hamoud added, “The situation is open to all possibilities, and nothing will prevent us from conducting it as long as the SDF is shelling the populated areas in Ras al-Ain, Tal Abyad and Afrin in the Aleppo countryside.”
Hamoud indicated that “the battles in Syria will go on. The map and the military distribution will also change. The military escalation you have noticed there is calculated. It targets military positions, gatherings of security commanders and specific figures, and the sources of fire at the opposition areas.”
An SDF navy official within the Hasakah countryside advised Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity, “The Turkish army and its allied factions have increased their shelling on the populated villages with the aim of undermining stability in the area and sowing fear among the residents to force them to flee.”
The supply dominated out the chance that the Turkish military and its allied factions perform a large-scale navy operation at the moment. He stated, “The escalation may continue, but the situation on the ground is not heading toward an open war. What is happening is an arrogance of power.”
In conjunction with the Turkish escalation in northeastern Syria, Russian forces arrange in August a number of navy factors alongside the frontlines with the FSA-controlled areas within the Operation Peace Spring space. They arrange navy factors in Raneen village south of Suluk city and in Shirkrak south of Tell Abyad. They are additionally getting ready to arrange different navy factors within the neighborhood of al-Alia Silos and al-Mabrouka in Ras al-Ain.
Anas Shawakh, a researcher on the Istanbul-based Jusoor Center for Studies, advised Al-Monitor, “The recent Turkish escalation aims primarily to pressure Russia to abide by the terms of the Sochi agreement signed between the two sides in 2019 after Operation Peace Spring ended.”
He added, “It is clear Turkey believes the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and SDF leaders are still present and moving within areas close to its border. In case this pressure goes on, it will inevitably force the SDF to limit the movement of the PKK leaders within its ranks, which may increase discord and tension within the SDF ranks.”
Shawakh “ruled out any intention by Turkey or Turkish-backed factions to launch a military operation at the present time. Yet it is still possible, especially with the renewed military escalation between the two parties in a number of areas, especially in Ain Issa.”
He indicated “the SDF fears the Turkish army and its allied factions will launch a military operation against them, especially since they (the SDF) are concerned about getting the same fate as the Afghan army, which the US supported following the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan. The US-led coalition has repeatedly said its mission in Syria is to fight the Islamic State IS, not Turkey or anyone else.”