The Turkish operation “Shield of the Euphrates, which began on August 24, moves in the Western direction. The forces of the Free Syrian army (FSA), with the support of Turkish tanks, artillery and aviation continued to move West from the border town of Jerablus. The rebels changed the direction of attack after the agreement on a temporary truce with the Kurdish troops, is located in Manbij. Turkish operation in Syria gave rise to the escalation of hostilities in the entire Western part of the country, including in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Hama.
On a temporary cease-fire in the North became known in the evening on August 30. The military Council Manuja, part of the Democratic forces of Syria along with Kurdish groups agreed on the pause in the fighting with Turkish troops. But the ceasefire does not mean a truce, said the representatives of both parties. “We will liberate our lands from the forces of Turkey and its allies”, — quotes Reuters the words of Ali, Hadjo, the speaker of the Military Council. “It is not peace and not cease fire, a pause, which will take some time”, — quotes Agency the words of one of the leaders of the Turkey-backed groups.
The Turkish military continues to move South. According to the Turkish newspaper Haber military equipment of the Turkish armed forces stopped 11 km to the North of Manuja. The publication indicates that the military are waiting until Kurdish troops leave the city. If they retreat, Turkey will be able to open a corridor to Aleppo for the Syrian opposition, said the Turkish expert on the Middle East Batuhan Yasar in an interview with the Azerbaijani Trend edition.
Officially, Ankara claims that the military operation has only the purpose of the fight against terrorist groups. “We strongly condemn all attempts to present the operation as the fight against the Syrian Kurds and their military achievements,” — said on August 31, the press Secretary of the Turkish President Ibrahim Kalin. The Turkish authorities also intend to fight the Kurdistan workers ‘ party and the Democratic Union (PYD), considering them terrorist organizations, added Kalin.
Following the operation, according to Kalin, is al-Bab, a large city halfway between Aleppo and Jerablus. Al-Bab is located in the middle of the isthmus controlled by ISIS is their stronghold in the area. In al-Bab also seek Kurdish troops who want to connect with their controlled territories on the West of the country. By words a press-the Secretary of Erdogan, this task can be impede the actions of the Kurdish troops in the rear of the Turkish army, their promotion to excepted Jerablus. “We don’t talk more about any deadline for the retreat of the Kurds on the Eastern Bank of the Euphrates. We just demand the retreat as soon as possible,” said Kalin.
Al-Bab can be the site of serious clashes between the Kurds and Turkey, indicates a senior lecturer in the Department of political science school of Economics Leonid Isaev. In his opinion, Washington, which supports the Kurds, and the Turks, trying to prevent and trying to slow down the advance of the Kurds by diplomatic means.
Rearrangement of forces
Operation of Turkish army in Northern Syria affect the balance of power in the entire Western region of the country, said the orientalist Grigory Melamed. “Celebrus was under the control of the IG (declared a terrorist organization and prohibited in Russia). The militants left the city without a fight and were sent to other areas”, — the expert explains.
One such area — the Kurdish-controlled region in the North-West of the country. The militants in late August, was able to capture a few small towns, the Kurdish troops, to extend their territory to the North of Aleppo. The activation of militants in the area noted and the Russian Ministry of defense. Blow to the terrorist groups have caused the su-34 bombers. According to the Ministry, the attack killed one of the leaders of ISIS, the official speaker of the group, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. According to the Pentagon, al-Adnani was killed in the town of al-Bab, the attack of the us military from the air.
Also, the militants have occupied several government army checkpoints East of HOMS province, says Amaq news Agency, which covers the activities of the terrorist groups in Syria.
The hands of the Islamists unleashes military strategy of Bashar al-Assad, says Melamed. “The Syrian army is not going to spend soldiers to fight ISIS [banned in Russia] in the Eastern districts. The army is focused on solving large-scale problems, including in Aleppo,” — said the orientalist.
The corridor to Aleppo and an offensive in Hama
In late August, the Syrian government army continued to attack the corridor, open the Syrian opposition in the North of the city of Aleppo. According to witnesses who posted video on social networks, parties to actively use artillery and jet systems of volley fire. Assad’s troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian troops of the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps were able to recapture a part of the Aviation school, which the opposition took at the beginning of August. This allowed Pro-government troops narrow ring around the opposition forces, centered in the city.
In the battle for Aleppo involved a large number of military equipment and more than ten thousand soldiers on both sides. The government army involved in the battle for the city on the fourth mechanized division with more than 100 tanks and 400 armoured vehicles. Also fighting are elite forces of the Syrian army Units of the Tiger. Opposed by government troops about 10 thousand soldiers of various opposition groups, including the banned in Russia “Frente al-Nusra”. Victory in this area will allow Assad’s troops again to block opposition groups in the Eastern parts of the city.
During a large-scale offensive in the province of Hama in the end of August fighters of the Free Syrian army recaptured by government forces on 12 settlements to the North of the city. Three days of intense fighting, the rebels lost 16 soldiers, the government army – 19. According to Melamedov, the rebels will not be able to take the city, which is under the control of the Syrian army. “The groups do not have enough forces and means to resist the government army and Russian aircraft”, — the expert believes. In the case of local success in fighting against Assad groups can be pressured Turkey. “They just say stop” — sums up the orientalist.
The Position Of Russia
The Russian side condemns the Turkish operation, but does not criticize Turkey too harshly, says the head of the St. Petersburg centre of studying of the modern Near East Gumer Isaev. According to him, between Russia and Turkey there is a certain coordination. Isaev suggests that the Turkish intervention in General does not change the balance of power among the involved powers — Russia and the United States.
“There is information that between Russia and Turkey reached a number of agreements about where should go the Turkish troops and their allies” — I agree Melamed. He notes that in the province of Aleppo, this territory is the city of al-Bab. “The situation in Hama is more difficult, while there is no specific borders” — the expert concludes.
Columnist at Russia Direct (the edition “Russian newspaper”) Timur Akhmetov recalled the words of the Minister of defence of Turkey Fikri of Ichika that the operation began by agreement with the Russian, Iranian and even the Syrian authorities. It is hard to imagine that Moscow would allow Ankara just to increase its influence in the region, not demanding anything in return, suggests Akhmetov. The expert drew attention to the fact that Turkish officials changed their attitude towards Assad. “Turkey may consider Assad as a future mediator,” he said at the end of August, the Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Turkey for the first five years of the conflict are ready to consider the current Syrian government as part of the future of the transition process, he concluded.