first published on January 24, 2018 by Will
Turkey worked out an agreement with Russia that allows Ankara to pull their jihadist HTS al Qaeda fighters out of contested Idlib and relocate them to fight against the YPG Kurds in Afrin.
By doing so, the Russian-backed Syrian government will ultimately regain control of Idlib governorate as the jihadists move out to Afrin. As a second benefit to Assad, thousands of these al Qaeda fighters are likely to be killed by the YPG in Turkey’s “Olive Branch” operation and will no longer pose as large of a threat to the Syrian government in the future.
Although the YPG is allied with the United States through the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US is once again betraying the Kurds, saying that the YPG fighters of Afrin were not part of the anti-ISIS coalition that liberated much of the Syrian countryside from the terror group, and therefore won’t be supported by the US. America has only so far “condemned” the operation.
The YPG Kurds of Afrin had previously been partnered with Russian special forces, but the Russians have since pulled their troops to allow Turkey to bomb Kurdish cities as part of their offensive operation.
The Russians told the Kurds that if they surrender Afrin to the Syrian government, they would put a stop to the Turkish operation. The YPG refused.
Ankara bussed several thousand rebel fighters out of Idlib, back to Turkey to be rearmed and refitted before sending them into Afrin. Turkey is using the exhausted guise of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to label their proxy force, when in reality, the militants are composed of ISIS commanders, HTS (al Qeada), and the hardline Nour Adin az Zanki jihadist groups… among others. Even Ahmed Hussein al-Shar’a A.K.A. Abu Mohammad al-Julani, the leader of al Qaeda in Syria gave his blessing to the operation via an HTS press release.
So to clarify: Turkey, a NATO member, is commanding al Qaeda in an operation against the most effective anti terror force in Syria, the Kurdish YPG.
So far, the Turkish military has conducted hundreds of airstrikes, carried out sustained artillery against Kurdish cities, and have cut off fuel supplies to the region, but have actually captured very little ground.
The YPG has resorted to small team guerrilla tactics and has successfully pushed back several jihadist assaults. Elite Iraqi Kurdish special forces groups, CTG2 and CTU, condemned the Iraqi Kurdish political parties for remaining silent on the Turkish invasion. Some of the operators took leave to join the fight in Afrin.