Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 06, 2018

Syria - Is The Turkish Attack On Afrin Intended To Split The U.S.-Kurdish Alliance?

The successful Syrian army operation to liberate Abu-Duhur airbase left a large enclave (pink) controlled by al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters in east-Hama. Further advances towards Idleb have been halted for now to clean up the cauldron that could otherwise create future troubles behind the lines.


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Most of the al-Qaeda/HTS aligned Takfiris are though to have fled the now enclosed area before it was encircled by the Syrian government forces. A few hundred ISIS fighters who had earlier slipped into there then claimed to have occupied dozens of empty local villages. But these forces are in fact too small to hold onto anything. They will now be sought out and destroyed. In just one day some 20 hamlets were liberated. It will take a week or two to bring the total area under control.

A Turkish military convoy came from Turkey and went to Al-Eis, an important high point south-west of Aleppo. The convoy was protected by al-Qaeda forces. A similar convoy had earlier been attacked and had to retreat. This time the Turkish troops were attacked by missiles as soon as they had reached their positions. According to Turkish media at least five of the soldiers were wounded and one killed.

The Turks claim that the "observation point" comes as part of its responsibilities under the Astana agreement about a de-escalation zone in Idleb. The Russian's seem to agree with that, at least for now, but Iranian and Syrian forces in the area see the Turks (rightly) as their enemies intended to hamper their further moves against Idleb city. The Turks in Al-Eis are quite isolated and have no air support. Their positions is more endangered that Turkey seems to appreciate.

Al-Qaeda or a group aligned with it shot down a Russian ground attack air plane by using a man portable missile (MANPADS). There are various speculation where that missile came from but it has long been known that there are warehouses in Turkey and Jordan filled with such missiles ready to be distributed to anti-Syrian forces. The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2014:

Washington's Arab allies, disappointed with Syria peace talks, have agreed to provide rebels there with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, according to Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures.
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Rebel commanders and leaders of the Syrian political opposition said they don't know yet how many of the Manpads and antiaircraft missiles they will get. But they have been told it is a significant amount. The weapons are already waiting in warehouses in Jordan and Turkey.

The weapons were held back over concerns that they would probably be used against civilian air-liners in other than the intended country.

Now the Washington Examiner speculates about the recent missile attack:

My theory is that President Trump has just shot a lethal warning across Russia’s bow in the Middle East.

Someone provided these ManPADs to the Syrian rebels. And it seems to have only been done recently.

I think it was the Americans. Maybe it was deliberately by President Trump, or maybe it was by the Deep State who want a war with Russia. Russia has been publicly declaring for months that the U.S. is protecting and training Islamist forces in the Syrian theater.

Maybe Trump wanted to send a message. Maybe these ManPADS were more “defensive lethal weapons” like what is being supplied to Ukrainian soldiers in Donbass.

If that was a U.S. move it was a stupid one. Two, or three, or four can play such a game. What happens if Kurds in Afrin suddenly find a stash of MANPADS. Iran aligned forces in Iraq? How about Houthis in Yemen? Or Taliban in Afghanistan?

The Syrian army has deployed new air defenses in north-west Syrian that can cover Afrin canton which is under Turkish attack. Turkish air raids on Afrin have since ceased and even Turkish drones are now avoiding Syrian airspace. Turkey has thus lost a significant part of its reconnaissance and attack capabilities in the area.


Source: The Maghreb and Orient Courier - bigger

The Turkish progress against the YPG Kurds in Afrin is extremely slow. Villages and hills that are taken by day are often lost again at night. Kurdish forces have so far destroyed at least 20 Turkish tanks and other vehicles with antitank missiles of which they seem to have plenty. The Turks are using the Takfiri "Syrian rebels" they have sponsored all these years as their foot soldiers. Why are they willing to die for a cause that presumably isn't theirs?

The answer may be in this piece about the rise of the major religious organization in Turkey, the Diyanet, which is government sponsored and has control over nearly all religious institutions. It seems more heavily involved in the war on Syria than one might assume:

Having learned of the planned coup during a dinner with intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and Moaz al Khatib (a leading member of the Syrian opposition and ulema), then Diyanet chief Mehmet Görmez (2010–July 2017) rallied the body’s 112,725—strong religious corps, including the imams of some 82,381 mosques controlled by the body.
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The Diyanet has been active in Syria, revealed by the former chief’s meeting on the evening of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt with Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib—the same individual who caused controversy in 2012 by calling on the United States to reconsider its decision to list Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organisation. Al-Khatib is also the former president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, former imam of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, and a member of the League of the Ulema of Sham (Rabitat Ulama al-Sham, established in 2012 by opposition ulema from Damascus and Homs, and member of the umbrella group, the Syrian Islamic Council, Al-Majlis al-Islami al-Suri), which is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Kurds fighting the Turkish supported religious-extremists have some support from the Syrian government. Their wounded are transported to government hospitals. The government controlled corridor between the Kurdish held areas in eastern Syria and in Afrin is open for Kurdish resupplies. Last night a large convoy of fresh fighters and ammunition from eastern Syria arrived in Afrin. These are the forces the U.S. occupation in north-east Syria has allied with under the label SDF. At least parts of the arms they carry were provided by the U.S. military.

Turkey has the second biggest army in NATO. If it really wanted to take Afrin it could surely do so. But so far it has only send company size forces where brigades are need. My suspicion is that the current Turkish operation against Afrin canton is not intended to really capture and control the area. That would require way more professional Turkish army forces and cost thousands of Turkish casualties. What the operation does, and is probable intended to do, is to demonstrate to its NATO partner in Washington that it is indeed aligning with Kurdish YPG/PKK forces that are, from a Turkish perspective, outright terrorists. The attack on Afrin is designed to split the U.S. alliance with the YPG/PKK. (That may well be the reason why it has tacit Russian support.) If it succeeds in doing that it will make a further U.S. occupation of north-east Syria, which is in alliance with the Kurds, extremely difficult.

The U.S. has to decide between the NATO partner Turkey and its Kurdish YPG allies. To deliver weapons to the later who then fight the former is not sustainable. U.S. National Security Advisor McMaster is expected to visit Turkey over the coming weekend. Secretary of State Tillerson will touch down a few days later. What deal will they offer?

Meanwhile little is heard of the remaining ISIS forces near the Iraqi border north of the Euphrates. Many of the thousands of ISIS fighters the U.S. let intentionally escape from Raqqa and who from there traveled east are still at large. The border area is supposed to be U.S./SDF controlled but there seem to be no more efforts ongoing to destroy the ISIS remands there. If the U.S. can not defeat them why does it hinder Syrian forces from crossing the Euphrates to destroy that menace?

One well founded speculation is that the U.S. directs those ISIS fighters to attack the Syrian forces in the border city Abu Kamal just south of the Euphrates. The intend is to disrupt the road that connects Syria and Iraq and thus Beirut and Tehran. There have recently been some serious hit-and-run incidents against the Syrian positions there.

The war on Syria will continue and all the U.S. and Turkish scheming is only prolonging it. Neither of them have learned and decided to either giver up on their aims or to risk all the means that are needed to achieve them.

Posted by b on February 6, 2018 at 02:33 PM | Permalink

Comments
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95
As for Putin I am sure there is bitter conflict within the Russian establishment over Russia not taking Kiev up to the Dneipre when the Nazi Ukraine thing blew up in 014/15 . If the Fascists are so threaded into the tapestry - as we have been told - then Russian history obviously. must leave Russians with foreboding .

Posted by: ashley albanese | Feb 8, 2018 7:12:56 AM | 101

Clueless Joe says:

For all I know, the US might already have a military base on Mars,...

yeah, all kidding aside, i think you're on the right track.

The incoherence between official reality and the real reality is such that we now have leadership and mass media that simply cannot manage their own schizophrenia, with the ongoing deterioration of their ability to conceal the truth of the planetary stranglehold of corporate interests and the National Security State(link)

Posted by: john | Feb 8, 2018 7:12:58 AM | 102

China and Russia could expose the illegal activities by US and its pathetic EU allies that support the assault on Syria in the UNSC, but they arent. Fast forward some years and US and its allies will surely try the same when war comes to Russia or/and China.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 8, 2018 7:16:03 AM | 103

Posted by: john | Feb 8, 2018 6:27:47 AM | 101

can all you savvy taxpayers wrap your heads around that?
The American military obviously can't because I'd doubt they'd understand why people might laugh hysterically about them wondering where the few million dollars for Trump's Washington parade would come from.

Yeah, I do know with padding from the MIC we should be talking about a few billion dollars, I doubt they'd dare go as high as a few trillion dollars although I'm sure there are some dreaming of that amount.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 8, 2018 7:17:47 AM | 104

Erdogan responds only when he thinks he can win more votes in the coming elections. Now the Turks hate the americans and support the elimination of the Kurdish threat. They are not against Bashar al Assad and have sympathy for ISIS, the Russians and they love the Europeans. For Iran the Turks are mitigated as they are Sunnis and dislike the Shias. Yet for economic reasons Turkey needs Iran.
So we will see public antagonism towards the USA, an attempt to mend relations with the EU and a possible rapprochement with Bashar Al Assad, if Turkey is ready to dump the FSA after they helped taking Afrin.
As for ISIS, they have already been integrated the FSA to fight the Kurds.
Turkey Accused of Recruiting Ex-Isis Fighters to Attack Kurds in Syria,Patrick Cockburn • February 7, 2018

Posted by: virgile | Feb 8, 2018 8:24:59 AM | 105

Obviously a US retaliation for the strike on the Ghouta yesterday. The French MSM are all about bombed hospitals and 300+ injured and killed in the Ghouta.
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/290584/World/Region/More-than--proAssad-forces-killed-in-thwarted-atta.aspx
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/syria-strikes-kill-dozens-rebel-held-eastern-ghouta-180206121436971.html
The tune in the MSM has changed 180° since the HRW boss was in Paris a couple of months ago.

Posted by: Mina | Feb 8, 2018 8:26:06 AM | 106

Mina

Stop saying "retaliation" it implies that the US have legitimate role in bombing another sovereign nation.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 8, 2018 8:37:44 AM | 107

104

Russians tend not to appreciate foreign adventures with Russian soldiers involved - and Putin is up for election.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine are complex Russia is in a good position as is.

Some stupid advisers tried to sell Ukraine's politicians on a "nation building" cultural exercise, if they continue with it relations with all neighbours will be bad - they already aren't that good.

Real fascists in Ukraine are few - it is more a fight of narratives whitewashing or blacking great grandfathers. But they are a critical mass that can be used from outside.

Some real discussion of Eastern European history would clear the air - at present everyone tries to score political points, including Israel.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 8, 2018 8:50:08 AM | 108

MOON OF ALABAMA and THE SAKER are covert zionist PIGS who erase and censor my posts.

Putin,
You're a traitorous dog.
You're allowing the americans and the jews to attack and kill Russians.
The Saudis give MANPADs to the moslem terrorists, Putin sells S-400s to the Saudis.
The Turks and their jihadi allies shoot down Russian jets and kill their pilots, Putin sells S-400s to them.
The Israelis and the Americans bomb and kill Putin's allies, the Syrians, Putin allows them to murder with impunity the people he ostensibly came to help.
Putin is a liar and a zionist traitor.
Putin=Netanyahu=Erdogan=Trump


Posted by: Truth Seeker | Feb 8, 2018 9:21:04 AM | 109

MOON OF ALABAMA and THE SAKER are covert zionist PIGS who erase and censor my posts.

Putin,
You're a traitorous dog.
You're allowing the americans and the jews to attack and kill Russians.
The Saudis give MANPADs to the moslem terrorists, Putin sells S-400s to the Saudis.
The Turks and their jihadi allies shoot down Russian jets and kill their pilots, Putin sells S-400s to them.
The Israelis and the Americans bomb and kill Putin's allies, the Syrians, Putin allows them to murder with impunity the people he ostensibly came to help.
Putin is a liar and a zionist traitor.
Putin=Netanyahu=Erdogan=Trump

Posted by: Truth Seeker | Feb 8, 2018 9:22:05 AM | 110

Ref retaliation, precisely that was my point, although the msm dont link the two events

Posted by: Mina | Feb 8, 2018 12:04:52 PM | 111

110
so what already
we all need a home to hang out in even for a limited hang out fashion.
anglo new york zionist satanist have rights as well
nothing wrong with the many shades of james grey.
word erasure is a good thing why confuse the goyim with complexity
why deny b and saker rabbi fundings
already my life dear boy you need a appy meal and a free sugar free freedumb coke

Posted by: menechem golani | Feb 8, 2018 2:10:23 PM | 112

@112 charles drake / etc.... hey - that was funny, especially the last line!!

Posted by: james | Feb 8, 2018 2:42:25 PM | 113

Afrin had been previously a rather peaceful enclave in Syria(almost surrounded by Turkey). The restraint of the invasion was probably induced by Russian influence but Erdogan remains a loose cannon and if the invasion was designed to discourage U.S. support for the YPG then the Russians have little to gain as the State Dept. goal seems intent on regime change in Syria. The supply of manPADs to Islamic terrorists indicates that the State Dept. is still under CIA control. Erdogan is only a friend to his own interests and those don't often coincide with those of the Turkish nation.

Posted by: Olentzero | Feb 8, 2018 11:55:11 PM | 114

At this moment the Turkish Air Force seems to have access to Afrin again. May this is the final push to force the Kurds to either separate from the US or get lost.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 9, 2018 5:31:04 AM | 115

Update; The Russian built bridge over the Euphrates was destroyed by a sudden rise of the water level by several metres. ie. The flood gates at Tabbqah dam were opened (a couple of days ago?). This shows that the attack on Syrian troops and supporters was pre-planned. It was NOT a "defensive" action

Posted by: stonebird | Feb 9, 2018 6:43:54 AM | 116

The Turks have good reason not to send in their troops. They might win and they might have hundreds of casualties where the Kurds have thousands but that still would count heavy for Turkish public opinion. It is much better to let the Syrian rebels (many ex-ISIS) do the fighting. It limits the number of Turkish casualties and it increases the legitimacy when later on you install some rebel government to rule the combined Afrin-North Damascus area.

I don't believe that the Turks are trying to split the US-Kurdish alliance. Instead I believe that they work closely with the US. The "border protection force" was just theater to give the Turks an excuse to invade. Once the Turks have created a rebel held statelet that runs from Jarabulus to Idlib you will see Arab groupings in Manbij, Raqqa, etc asking to join them and the US will be happy to cooperate. The US still wants the "revolution" to win and it knows that for that to work it needs some Arab dominated entity, not some Kurd-dominated entity. So they are ready to betray the Kurds when the time is there.

Posted by: Wim | Feb 9, 2018 9:02:13 AM | 117

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