Syria - Erdogan Is Afraid Of
By Moon Of Alabama
08, 2017 "Information
President Erdogan announced the start of a Turkish
operation in Idleb province of Syria. Idelb has been
for years under the control of al-Qaeda in Syria,
currently under the label Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
talks in Astana, Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed on a
deescalation zone in Idelb to be supervised by all
three of them. But the fight against al-Qaeda, aka
HTS, would continue. Turkey is supposed to control
the western part of the province including the city
of Idleb. But the Turkish government is afraid to go
last days there have been many reports and lots of
pictures of Turkish force movements along the
north-western Syrian border. But Turkey made no
attempt to enter the country and it is doubtful that
serious operation in Syria's Idlib today and it
will continue," Erdogan said in a speech to his
AK Party, adding that Turkey would not allow a
"terror corridor" on its border with Syria.
now Free Syria Army is carrying out the
operation there," Erdogan said. "Russia
will be protecting outside the borders (of the
Idlib region) and we will handle inside," he
is supporting the operation from the air,
and our armed forces from inside
Turkey's borders," he added.
inside Turkey's borders" means of course that the
Turkish army will not (again) enter Syria. At least
transferred some 800 of its "Turkmen" mercenaries
from the "Euphrates Shield" area north-east of
Aleppo [green] to the western border next to Idleb.
"Euphrates Shield" was a fight against the Islamic
State with the aim of interrupting a potential
Kurdish "terrorist" corridor from north-east Syria
to the north-western Kurdish enclave Afrin [beige].
Turkey lost a bunch of heavy battle tanks and some
70 soldiers in that fight. Erdogan was criticized in
Turkey for the somewhat botched operation.
proxy fighters now sent into Idleb belong to the
Hamza Brigade, Liwa al-Mutasem and other Turkish
"Free Syrian Army" outfits. They will have to go in
without tanks and heavy weapons. Some Turkish
special forces with them might be able to call up
artillery support from within Turkey. But no Turkish
air support will be available as Syria and Russia
insist of staying in control of the airspace.
shows a group of
HTS maniacs attacking an outpost like professional
soldiers. They are equipped with AT-4 anti-tank
missiles, 60mmm mortars, light machine guns and
Milkor grenade launcher. They have good uniforms,
fairly new boots and ammo carrier belts. This is not
equipment captured from the Syrian army or second
hand stuff from some former eastern-block country.
It is modern "western" stuff. These folks still have
some rich sponsor and excellent equipment sources.
in recent weeks extensively bombed al-Qaeda
positions in Idleb. Turkish intelligence may have
helped with that. But AQ still has a very decent
fighting force. The Turkish supported forces are
likely no match for well equipped and battle
hardened al-Qaeda fighters.
for nearly six years supplied and pampered al-Qaeda
in Syria. The group has many relations and personal
within Turkey. The Astana agreement now obligates
Turkey to fight HTS. Erdogan sits in a trap he set
up himself. Should it come to a conflict between HTS
and Turkish forces in Syria, the fight would soon
cause casualties in Ankara and Istanbul.
might still believe that he can somehow domesticate
HTS. The government controlled Anadolu agency
does not even
mention the al-Qaeda origin of the group nor its
long control of the area. It is trying to paint a
somewhat rosy picture of HTS as an anti-American
al-Sham, an anti-regime group, has come to the
forefront with increasing activity in Idlib
recently. Tahrir al-Sham has not made a direct
statement against the deployment of Turkish
troops to the region.
other hand, the group and some opponents oppose
the entry of various Free Syrian Army groups to
Idlib, which are prepared to come from the
Euphrates Shield Operation Area.
group justifies the opposition, saying that
other groups expected to arrive in the region
get support from the United States.
Turkish paper Hurriyet is
less sensible with
largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS),
spearheaded by a former al-Qaeda affiliate that
changed its name last year from the Nusra Front.
not party to a deal brokered by Russia, Turkey
and Iran for the safe zone in the province, one
of four such "de-escalation" zones nationwide.
HTS forces from the area will be needed to allow
the arrival of Iranian, Russian and Turkish
forces to implement a de-escalation zone.
Erdogan was given the task to clean up the mess he
earlier created in Idleb by supporting the Jihadis.
Erdogan does not like the job but has no choice.
de-escalation fails because HTS stays in control,
Syria and its allies will move into Idleb. Turkey
will then have to cope with thousands of battle
seasoned Jihdis and a million of their kinfolk as
refugees. If Erdogan moves Turkish forces into the
Idleb area it will become a very costly fight and he
will soon be in trouble in his own realm. Making
peace with HTS is not an option. HTS rejected all
offers to "change its skin" and to melt away. Iran,
the Astana agreement and a number of UN Security
Council Resolutions also stand against that.
It will be
difficult for Turkey to untangle that knot.
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