Enab Baladi – Hassan Ibrahim
The scale of skirmishes and clashes has increased between the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the frontlines dividing the two sides in the northern countryside and east of Aleppo and the cities of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad in northern Syria.
The situation was not limited to these factions, but the parties that supported them also intensified, and the SDF, the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies increased the intensity of the bombardments on the areas held by the SNA, which which was offset by the targeting of SDF and regime areas by Turkish forces and the SNA.
Daily Turkish bombings
Tensions in the region have manifested with each side announcing the killing and targeting of operatives and fighters from the other side, while Turkey announces almost daily that it is “neutralising” and targeting fighters within the ranks of the SDF backed by Washington, who have military influence in northeast Syria.
Turkey sees the SDF as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a “terrorist” organization, but the SDF denies, despite acknowledging the presence of party fighters under its banner and their leadership positions.
Turkey ranks the PKK on the “terror” lists, and the left-wing party is ranked on the “terror” lists.terrorismin the United States and several European countries.
On May 20, the Turkish Defense Ministry released a video recording in which it claimed that its forces had “neutralized” five militants from the PKK and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), who were trying to infiltrate the area. of Peace Spring operations. . (Countryside areas of Raqqa and al-Hasakah governorates).
On May 19, the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced that it had kill 19 SDF fighters on contact lines with SNA areas north of Aleppo governorate.
Targeting operations by Turkish forces are not limited to soldiers and operatives, but have repeatedly targeted leaders of Kurdish parties whom they consider to be “terrorists”, including the targeting of a PKK leader, Akram Ostak, with a air attack by a drone that targeted the leader’s house, resulting in his death, in the Ain al-Arab region of northern Syria on May 11.
The targeting of Ostak was preceded by the “neutralization” of another leader about a month ago, named Mohammad Aydin, in the town of al-Darbasiyah, al-Hasakah governorate, northeast of Syria, the Anadolu Agency (AA) reported April 17.
Syrian regime, Russia in the line of fire
The Kurdish parties announce almost daily the assassination of the Turkish forces on the front line in the countryside of Aleppo. The Hawar The agency, close to the SDS, frequently reports news of targeting operations interspersed with statistics on the number of deaths in the ranks of the Turkish forces.
On May 18, the Hawar news agency said Kurdish forces had kill 46 Turkish soldiers and wounded six others and shot down three drones near contact lines. The following day, the agency announced that 15 soldiers had also been kill. The Turkish defense or the SNA factions have not confirmed these figures.
On May 13, Russian warplanes target the vicinity of the village of Kafr Jannah in the SNA-held Afrin countryside.
The attack came after the airspace of northwest Syria witnessed intense overflights by Russian fighter jets and reconnaissance aircraft.
At Enab Baladi correspondent in the Aleppo countryside said that Russian fighter jets were targeting the Headquarter of the Sultan Murad Division in the Afrin region and conducted four raids in the region.
No official statistics have been released on the number of dead or injured, either from a medical source or from the faction, while local networks reported that three members of the faction had been injured.
On the same day, a Turkish military post came under artillery fire from areas controlled by regime forces in the town of Qabtan al-Jabal and Anjara in the western countryside of Aleppo. No casualties were reported.
Periodically, the Turkish Ministry of Defense announces the murder of its soldiers in the areas of influence of the SNA. On May 12, a Turkish soldier was killed and three others were injured, in addition to a woman, following rocket fire from the Ain al-Arab area in northern Syria, to a Turkish army border post in the Karchemish border area. Gaziantep.
The Defense Ministry said at the time that Turkish ground forces had widely targeted sites east and west of the Euphrates in northern Syria and indicated the involvement of armed drones and heavy artillery in military operation.
Hawar The news agency confirmed the bombing and targeting operations at the time, without referring to the extent of the damage caused by the continuous bombardments on the areas of influence of the SDF.
May 7, news accounts SDF and SNA relatives reported the deaths of two Syrian regime forces in a Turkish artillery bombardment that pounded common sites between areas controlled by the SDF and Syrian regime forces in the village of Ziyara. Syrian regime media did not report on the attack.
Areas controlled by the SNA are also submitted the frequent bombardments by the SDF and the Syrian regime.
The SDF often denies responsibility for targeting populated areas north of Aleppo, often resulting in civilian casualties, while authorities in the region consider it responsible for the bombings.
Messages from Moscow
Researcher and political analyst Hassan al-Nifi explained to Enab Baladi that ceasefire violations by the regime and its Russian ally have not stopped since the Moscow Accord, or Ceasefire Agreement, signed between Russia and Turkey on March 5, 2020 , with great attention on both sides that the military escalation does not turn into a full-blown war.
Al-Nifi believes that the reason for the high frequency of mutual bombing and targeting between these forces is that Russia has messages it wants to convey to the Syrian opposition and the Turkish side together, and it wants its messages are always accompanied by bombardments and military escalation.
According to the political analyst, the first message is Russian resentment, Russian President Vladimir Putin having wanted to assure Turkey that its exclusion from the Brussels donors’ conference, which took place on May 9 and 10, does not cancel not his possession of more powerful cards. , but rather destructive.
The sixth Brussels conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region was held with the participation of representatives of governments, international and regional organizations and civil society organizations to collect support funding from donors to support the United Nations aid program for millions of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, in the absence of Russia, after the EU announced that it would not call on Russia for its war against Ukraine.
According to al-Nifi, the second message Putin is trying to convey is that he is still in control of the Syrian situation, despite the withdrawal of some Russian military forces and bases from Syrian airports.
Talks have been rife since last April about Russia reducing the number of its military forces in Syria to bolster its combat front in Ukraine.
Over the past few days, social media activists have been circulating a photocopy of a mobilization notice citing the need for Russian citizens who have been notified of such an invitation to join the military operation, noting that authorities will consider their families and loved ones in case of not joining.
The Moscow Times on May 7 said that Russia had begun the process of withdrawing its military forces from Syria and concentrating them at three airports before transferring them to the Ukrainian front.
Abandoned airbases in the Russian Federation are being transferred to Iran’s military-political formation Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the news site added.
The exact number of Russia’s Syrian group is currently unknown. According to the Ministry of Defense, between 2015 and 2018, 63,000 military personnel were stationed in the country, almost half of whom were officers, according to the Moscow Times.
Despite the Russian escalation in the region, al-Nifi does not believe it will turn into a full-scale war, given Russia’s engagement in Ukraine on the one hand and Russia’s reluctance to risk the Turkey’s neutral position during its invasion of Ukraine, on the other hand. on the other hand.
Iran from afar
Iranian militias and forces play a central role and are implicated in the current escalations, according to a report by the Jusoor Center for Studies, adding that they were behind the bombing of a Turkish military base from the Qabtan al-Jabal area west of Aleppo on May 13.
The report adds that Iran has brought these militias as military reinforcements to western Aleppo and deployed them in posts overlooking areas controlled by the national army since early April.
The new escalation, according to Jusoor Center, clearly reflects Iran’s return to the military scene after signs of its willingness to revive the political scene, through the visit of the leader of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, to Tehran on 8 May.
Iran has recently taken advantage of Moscow’s military situation and is exploiting it by reinforcing many of its positions. On April 22, IRGC military reinforcements arrived at Deir Ezzor military airport, the Russian military base in eastern Syria.
These reinforcements included more than 40 truckloads of covered plates and members of the IRGC, the Deir Ezzor 24 network reported at the time.