by John Galt
June 27, 2017 21:55 ET
Turkey has invaded Syria to eradicate the threat of Marxist Kurdish rebels who have seized territory in Northern Syria in the Aleppo district along the Turkish border. This is the same group designated the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which consists largely of YPG rebels and is on the verge of expelling ISIS from Raqqa.
Turkey firing on Kurdish YPG in Afrin Syria overnight pic.twitter.com/o93f4sYOt3
— Deplorable Mexican (@basedmex) June 28, 2017
Per Al-Masdar News the attack began with a cross border artillery barrage along most of the border with the Aleppo district just after midnight local time (excerpt from the article):
Artillery shells landed on Tall Rifaat, Harbul, Ain Daqnah, Maranaz, Malkiyah, Qastal and Vilat Al-Qadi while Turkish reconnaissance planes hovered over the town of Sheikh Issa for hours, likely to provide coordinates of Kurdish targets and explore weak points in their defensive lines.
In response to the Turkish hostilities, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – the majority of whom are YPG fighters – exchanged fire with Turkish-backed rebels in northern Aleppo.
This was followed by an invasion force crossing into Syria several hours later as recorded per the following video:
— NieuwsBlog (@nieuwsblog) June 27, 2017
The targets appear to be Afrin in Northern Aleppo and to cut off the SDF/YPG from resupply from the East so the Turkish forces can link the rebels they support from Idlib to Aleppo for what could be a new offensive later this year against the Assad government.
This map from Al-Masdar’s correspondent Chris Tomson indicates with the red arrows where the offensive appears to be targeting SDF/YPG forces tonight:
I have added the green arrows to indicated the projected path the Turkish forces will take to cut off the Kurdish rebels and seal off the territory inside Northern Syria so the pro-Turkish rebels can link up from Idlib to the Turkish border via the Aleppo district.
Per the website AI-Monitor, the goal is not only to isolate the Kurdish rebels in northern Syria, but to destroy as much of their military capacity as possible while establishing new operational authority over the region to resupply the rebels Ankara supports:
According to information leaked to the news media by official Ankara sources, TSK forces will cross into Syria from three locations and establish control over an area 35 by 85 kilometers (21 by 52 miles). This corridor would start at Daret Izza and extend to Obin and Khirbet al-Joz. Another area of land, starting from Turkey’s Hatay border and extending 35 kilometers to Sahl al-Ghab, would also be controlled by the TSK. In this security configuration around Idlib, Turkey’s Free Syrian Army (FSA) allies would also have a role. So far, as many as 2,000 FSA soldiers have been put on alert.
Turkish news reports have said Turkey will deploy two companies of troops west of Marea and east of Tel Rifaat to complete Afrin’s isolation.
Initially, Turkey said it was moving its forces to the Azaz-Marea line to prevent attacks in Turkish-controlled northern Syria from the area controlled by the YPG and its allies. Turkish reports said truck-mounted Grad missiles, mortar shells and 23 mm anti-aircraft weapons were being fired from Menagh base and Horbul close to areas held by TSK units — hence the alert status declared for Turkish and FSA units.
Add in to the mix this one part of the story where Russia will turn a blind eye to the anti-Kurdish operations in retaliation for the US shooting down a Syrian aircraft then this excerpt from the same story begins to make sense:
Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin talked of a plan calling for Russian and Turkish deployment at Idlib, Russian and Iranian troops around Damascus, and American and Jordanians at Daraa in the south.
“There is even a Russian proposal for Kyrgyzstan [and] Kazakhstan to send troops,” Kalin said.
This fascinating development will enrage the Pentagon and State Department as there was obviously zero consultation with the Trump administration about Turkey attacking the SDF/YPG forces inside Syria just as the Raqqa offensive was almost complete. Instead this might force the Kurds to withdraw from that fight leaving it to the Syrian Army to retake the region along the Iraqi border and the US cut off from its Kurdish allies in the north. The reaction from Washington, D.C. and Jerusalem will be interesting at a minimum, as it would appear Turkey and Russia have executed an end around American policy in the region.