Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 16
By Rufiz Hafizoglu – Trend:
Turkey does not conceal its intention to launch military operations in Syria’s Afrin city against Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Syrian wing of PKK (YPG), which are provided with arms by the US. The reason is to ensure the country’s security.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the beginning of military operations in Afrin is a matter of time.
Turkey ambiguously perceives the issue of launching new military operations in Syria. Turkey’s opposition Republican People's Party calls on the country’s government to refrain from the expected operations in Afrin.
The opposition explains this by saying that military operations in Afrin against PYD and YPG may exacerbate the situation inside Turkey, as this may intensify the activity of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group.
Almost 90 percent of the Syrian-Turkish border is controlled by PYD and YPG and only a small part is controlled by the Free Syrian Army. It was freed from the terrorists of the Islamic State (IS) within the Euphrates Shield operation in August 2016.
So why does Turkey intend to launch military operations at the western borders?
Firstly, Turkey’s Hatay and Kilis provinces are periodically subject to rocket fire from Afrin. In general, over the past year Turkey’s territory has been fired from Afrin by more than 10 times.
Secondly, Afrin is isolated from other Syria’s territories, controlled by PYD and YPG. Syria’s government troops are in southern Afrin, the opposing Free Syrian Army - in south-western and north-eastern Afrin. Such deployment of forces and isolation of Afrin make this city more vulnerable.
Of course, provision of PYD and YPG with arms by the US may split Syria and this harms the interests of not only Syrian government, but also Russia, Turkey and Iran.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has recently said that the US intention to help create border security zones in Syria testifies that Washington does not want to keep the country intact.
There is another question. Will Iran and Russia support Turkey in military operations in Afrin?
Despite that Syria’s split is not in the interests of Iran and Russia, Moscow and Tehran will not render military support to Ankara in Afrin. Lebanese Hezbollah, which previously actively supported the Syrian army against the opposition and the IS terrorists, will not open a new front against PYD and YPG. The Free Syrian Army will be the only ally of Turkey against PYD and YPG.
The military operations in Afrin may start from three directions, first of all, from Turkey’s territory, as well as from north-eastern and south-western Syria, where the forces of the Free Syrian Army are deployed. Turkish military experts also do not rule out that in case of successful military operations in Afrin, the Syrian authorities may open a corridor for PYD and YPG troops to retreat to eastern Syria.
The timing of the expected military operations in Afrin is still unknown, but Turkey is sure that Afrin will become a battlefield of the US and Turkey.
Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Agency's Arabic news service, follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu