SF: Turkey’s operation or two in northern Syria are expected to begin every day, yet they keep being “postponed”.
Currently, some would say that the situation has become quite complicated thanks to the presence and activities of US, and primarily Russian forces, mostly in the northeastern regions.
To further deter Ankara’s ambitions, Russian forces are establishing a new base near the town of Manbij in the eastern countryside of Aleppo. As of November 5th, there have been Russian military vehicles and Syrian Arab Army (SAA) artillery present.
As an additional reinforcement to the northeastern region, Moscow is reportedly planning to deploy an S-400 long-range air-defense system. A number of Syrian and Russian Pantsir-S short-range air-defense systems and radars are known to be deployed at al-Qamishli Airport.
Manbij and its surroundings are held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SAA established a network of positions around the town a few years ago in order to protect it from the Turkish military and its proxies who occupy nearby areas.
In the last few days, Russian forces and the SAA held a series of joint drills in northern and northeastern Syria in coordination with the SDF.
The drills are meant to show a joint resolve of the Damascus government and its allies to confront any Turkish attack on the SDF in order to maintain stability and security. The SDF and SAA cannot be considered as true allies, they are simply forced to cooperate in the face of a common adversary.
As in previous operations, Turkey is expected to rely mainly on a large force of Syrian rebels that it has trained and equipped over the last few years. At least 20,000 fighters now follow a unified command structure under what is being called the Syrian National Army.
While Ankara prepares to begin fighting, Israel is sporadically carrying out strikes on targets in Syria, and primarily in and around Damascus. Most recently, on November 3rd, two Israeli F-16 fighter jets targeted logistics support facilities of the Syrian Arab Army.
This does little to conceal the fact that Tel Aviv’s forces are attempting to assist the Turkish Armed Forces in a potential fight, by impeding the SAA’s ability to support its troops in a fight.
While all of this is taking place, ISIS are also conveniently increasing its activity on the ground diverting strengths and capabilities of Russia’s Aerospace Forces (VKS) and the SAA. According to local reports, ISIS terrorists stepped up their attacks in eastern and central Syria in recent days.
VKS warplanes carried out at least ten airstrikes hitting ISIS positions in Syria’s central region. The raids were likely a response to recent attacks in one of which ISIS militants destroyed a vehicle of Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah near the town of Madan in the eastern countryside of Raqqa with an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).
How an ATGM got in the hands of the besieged terrorists is a mystery in and of itself, but there’s many of those in northern and central Syria, near the positions of the US, Turkey and the various factions.
Thus, in general, events are becoming extremely complex and unstable. The coming days will show whether Turkey will decide to escalate in these conditions. It appears that the answer to that question may be no rather than yes.