If the Kurds come back under the roof of Damascus, the Turkish military campaign in northern Syria will lose its relevance, political analyst Ghassan Kadi told Sputnik. Commenting on the liberation of East Ghouta, the analyst agreed that it may develop according to the “Aleppo scenario.”
If the Kurds have given up the idea of creating a sovereign entity in northern Syria, then Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan no longer has a justification to proceed with his Olive Branch operation in Afrin and Manbij, political analyst of Syrian origin Ghassan Kadi told Sputnik.
Ankara has sent police special forces units to the northern Syrian region of Afrin in anticipation of a new phase of its campaign against the Kurdish militias. It also says the UN-backed ceasefire does not affect its operation.
The special forces units crossed into Syrian territory from the southern Turkish provinces of Kilis and Hatay, local media reported. The new forces are expected to hold villages taken by Turkish troops from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as well as to take part in urban combat as Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch apparently moves from the countryside to the major settlements.
“Deploying special forces is part of the preparation for a new fight that is approaching,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told Turkish NTV. “The fight will shift to places where there are civilians, as the area (of fighting) narrows,” he said, adding that the special forces units have experience in fighting militants in residential areas.
Even though the Turkish operation has entered its sixth week, most of the larger towns in the Kurdish-held enclave, including the city of Afrin itself, remain in the hands of the YPG. Still, Turkish forces drove the Kurdish militias from all areas bordering Turkey, local media report. On February 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the troops would lay siege to Afrin “in the coming days.”
In a bizarre act of propaganda, while urging the nation to be ready for mobilization, the Turkish leader invited a small girl in military uniform onstage and assured the sobbing child she would receive state honors if killed.
The controversial episode happened as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was addressing a provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the southern province of Gaziantep on Saturday. The Turkish leader used the occasion to whip up public support for the ongoing military operation targeting Kurdish militias in Syria – and to remind those who have completed their service but still had “active mobilization orders” to be ready to be recruited again if the situation requires.
At one point, a young girl in the hall, who was dressed in military uniform complete with a maroon beret worn by the Turkish Special Operations Forces, caught Erdogan’s attention, according to TV footage of the speech. He invited the child, who looked about four or five years-old, to come to the stage next to him. She did, although the attention apparently made her uncomfortable, judging by her sobbing.
“Look what you see here! Girl, what are you doing here? We have our maroon berets here, but maroon berets never cry,”the Turkish president told the child in an apparent attempt to calm her.
“She has a Turkish flag in her pocket too,” Erdogan then told the audience, embracing the girl.
“If she is martyred [killed], they will lay a flag on her, God willing,”he then added in a bizarre twist:“She is ready for everything, isn’t she?”
The confused girl only answered: “Yes.” Erdogan planted a kiss on the girl’s face and let her go.
The day before YPG representative in nearby Afrin Brusk Haseke confirmed to Sputnik that Syrian forces had arrived in the city despite Turkish Air Forces’ shelling.
The Kurdish Self-Defense Forces (YPG) and the Syrian armed forces have agreed on the transfer of control over the town of Tell Rifaat in northern Aleppo province to the Syrian army, the government troops will enter the settlement in the next few hours, a Syrian security source told Sputnik on Thursday.
“An agreement has been reached to pass control of the town of Tell Rifaat in Aleppo province from YPG units to the Syrian army. The Syrian army will enter the town within a few hours,” the source said.
The decision comes amid reports that Afrin Kurds had reached an agreement with Damascus to sent the government forces in Afrin to counter the Turkish military operation in the region. Later on, reports appeared saying that the Syrian government forces had entered Afrin.
As we reported yesterday, in a surprising twist in the ongoing Syrian proxy war, YPG Kurdish fighters in north-western Syria – who are backed by the US – had struck a deal with the Russia-backed Assad regime for Syrian forces to enter the Afrin region and repel a Turkish offensive which began last month.
Badran Jia Kurd, an advisor to the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria told Reuters that Syrian troops will deploy along several border positions and could enter the region within the next two days: “we can cooperate with any side that lends us a helping hand in light of the barbaric crimes and the international silence,” Jia Kurd said.
Pro-government Syrian forces are expected to enter Afrin enclave “within hours,” local media report. Earlier, an adviser to the Kurdish administration said a deal has been reached to allow Syrian forces into the embattled area.
Syria’s pro-government popular forces will enter Afrin“within hours” to support the locals “in facing the aggression” from Turkey, SANA state news agency reported on Monday, citing its correspondent in Aleppo. Syrian broadcaster al-Ikhbariya TV, also citing own reporter, said that Assad-loyal forces will arrive in the area shortly.
The reports follow the claim by the Kurdish official that the deal was reached between Damascus and the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) fighters. The negotiations were reportedly aimed at getting help from the Syrian government to repel the ongoing Turkish offensive on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin.
In an incident that took place less than two weeks after the Greek Defense Ministry announced that Turkey had violated Greek airspace 138 times in a single day, a Turkish coast guard patrol boat on February 13 rammed a Greek coast guard vessel off the shore of Imia, one of many Greek islands over which Turkey claims sovereignty.
Most of the areas within modern Greece’s current borders were under the occupation of the Ottoman Empire from the mid-15th century until the Greek War of Independence in 1821 and the establishment of the modern Greek state in 1832. The islands, however, like the rest of Greece, are legally and historically Greek, as their names indicate.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), however, and even much of the opposition seem intent on, if not obsessed with, invading and conquering these Greek islands, on the grounds that they are actually Turkish territory.