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Clashes between Kurdish Forces & Pro-Turkish Militanst Ongoing in Northern Syria – Reports

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The Kurdish YPG and pro-Turkish militant groups have been clashing across the northern part of Syria. According to local media activists, firefights erupted in the village of Kafr Kashir south of Azaz on Friday. Earlier, sporadic clashes were reported between the YPG and pro-Turkish militants in Qabbaseen.

Reports indicate significant tensions between the two power-brokers in northern Syria and these tensions will grow as the Turkey-led forces will attempt to strom the key ISIS-controlled town of al-Bab.

The YPG sees al-Bab as a key point that will allow to link-up the Kurdish conrolled areas in Syria and will continue attempts to prevent Turkey from taking control of it.

Clashes between Kurdish Forces & Pro-Turkish Militanst Ongoing in Northern Syria - Reports

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Pave Way IV

“…Earlier, sporadic clashes were reported between the YPG and pro-Kurdish militants in Qabbaseen.

Wow – that would certainly have been a new twist in all the confusion. I believe this is a typo by the SF authors and should have read “…YPG and pro-Turkish militants…” as illustrated in the link to the previous story.

And the so-called Turkish FSA (Turkomen and al Zenki head-choppers) only make up a part of the forces. By now, it’s apparent that there are some Turkish Army regulars helping out with the junk armor they donated to the cause. There are some artillery pieces, but not clear who is operating them. I would guess Turk Army regulars dressed up as FSA. There are also reportedly a few hundred Turkish SF for serious fighting – mostly because Captagon-fueled al Zenki head-choppers and Turkomen militia are only marginal fighters and would otherwise lose to ISIS. Then you have the Turkish and U.S. Air Forces providing close air support. Maybe a few secret U.S. JTACs embedded in the head-choppers to prevent their demise by friendly fire. Toss in an assortment of Turkish mercs and that probably rounds out the actual Euphrates Shield contingent.

The composition of the so-called Turkish FSA is a secret. Western MSM must be fed an acceptable set of ‘facts’ to produce the desired narrative. The U.S. would prefer that the Kurds didn’t see repeated reminders of how badly they were sold out to the Turks by the U.S., and the U.S. does not want Syria, Russia or the GCC to think Turk Army SF and regulars are part of the invasion forces.

Still waiting for the other shoe to drop with regards to the GCC mafia. They hate Turkey and object to the Syrian land theft – mostly because the GCC had planned on stealing it for themselves via their various head-chopper forces. I would expect some future fighting between the Turk invaders and some previously unheard of ‘Arab militia’ (= GCC mercs).

'Sup Bruh!

Are you fucking high? “Reportedly” ? Turkey announced it by itself that there are 180 speacial forces and around 30 to 40 tanks in Syria, participating in the Euphrates Shield operation.

U.S Air Forces providing support? US is against this operation. Even Wall Street Journal wrote about it. The only thing US cares is the diviation of Syria and Iraq, with the usage of YPG and PKK.

Pave Way IV

“…Are you fucking high? “Reportedly” ? Turkey announced it by itself that there are 180 speacial forces and around 30 to 40 tanks in Syria, participating in the Euphrates Shield operation…”

Turkey says a lot of things. Call me skeptical (or high), but I have a hard time believing 1,800 FSA and only 180 Turk SF are somehow simultaneously holding the few thousand square miles of territory in northern Syria captured in Euphrates Shield so far, waging a significant campaign against al Bab, bombing the SDF in Manbij and also building a Turkish base in Ziyar. They only ‘admitted’ to 180 Turk SF because that’s easier for the international community to swallow than announcing a few thousand Turkish Army troops of all kinds are running around Syria. And claiming they have 30 or 40 tanks involved is a laugh. There has to be ten times that much Turkish armor rolling around northern Syria. There’s more than 30 – 40 tanks just in the al Bab campaign along with dozens of APCs and mobile artillery pieces.

“…US is against this operation…”

Which part are we ‘against’? The Turkish FSA kicked their U.S. JTACs out of Al Rai last month. Those U.S. troops were sent there intended to be the embedded forces in Euphrates Shield calling in U.S. airstrikes for Turkish FSA. Euphrates Shield always included al Bab, so you would assume the U.S. intended to give them close air support in all operations, including al Bab. We normally don’t supply JTACs to forces or operations we ‘oppose’. Despite the JTACs being pulled, there were many reports of both Turkish and U.S. F-16s carrying out airstrikes on IS as the FSA approached al Bab. CJTF-OIR even listed the al Bab strikes last week. Exactly what part of that gives you the impression that the U.S. ‘opposes’ the Turkish FSA move on al Bab?

“…Even Wall Street Journal wrote about it…”

I’ll forgo the cheap shot at the WSJ as ‘credible MSM’, but it doesn’t surprise me how this is being reported. Obama and Dunford’s actions and intent are confusing as hell to any normal person. They’re trying to juggle both the narrative demonizing Erdogan while simultaneously supporting his northern Syrian safe zone, no-fly zone and Assad-must-go goals. Just like they need to keep up the ‘supporting the Kurds’ narrative while back-stabbing them. I don’t care what the story-of-the-day in the western MSM happens to be: if we (unsuccessfully) send SF to be part of Euphrates Shield and have OIR jets bombing ISIS in al Bab supporting their al Bab campaign, then we are supporting the Euphrates Shield and the al Bab campaign, despite any MSM reasoning to the contrary.

Joseph Scott

I think both are you are correct here.

It’s confusing even inside the US command structure. DoD/Pentagon is trying to play both sides, but JSOC and their operators on the ground are pretty unimpressed with the FSA and Turks (who have shot at them or threatened them more than once), and aren’t supporting them with any enthusiasm, whatever their superiors in Washington want. Since the FSA people are actually Islamic extremists and the YPG/YPJ and assorted Arab friends like Thuwar Liwa ar-Raqqa are secular/democratic, it’s pretty easy to see why the US SF (and any French and German operators still around) would greatly prefer the one to the other, even without the Turks and FSA shooting at them, etc. We have been officially providing support to Euphrates Shield, but the people assigned to carry it out have been doing the bare minimum in protest of the whole mission. Washington can’t really do anything to change that. Everybody at JSOC thinks supporting the FSA is stupid. Remember when FSA got hit by a US air strike last month? I don’t think that was an accident. So, that’s how committed the actual support is. Also, air support got pulled the moment FSA came into contact with the SDF coming down the road from Manbij. Too ambiguous. Nobody on the OIR staff is willing to risk hitting their own people or even SDF on behalf of a bunch of people they’d just as soon shoot.

The official uniformed contingent of Turkish troops consists of a mechanised battlegroup consisting of an armoured battalion, a mechanised infantry battalion, and the attached SF group, who seem to be the typical SF ‘regiment’ of @240-260. But they did say they have another 90 tanks being operated by FSA, so those are your out-of-uniform soldiers, contractors, etc.

Pave Way IV

Thanks, JS. JSOC and SOCOM were phenomenally bad ideas to begin with, and they apparently can’t hold on to career Green Berets no matter how much money they throw at them nowadays. Sad days for SF according to the old-timers I know.

I’m not an army guy – approx. what kind/amount of armor (tanks, mobile artillery, apc’s) would be in the Turk’s armored and mech infantry batallions in Syria? The ‘FSA’ tanks are apparently functional relics donated (‘discarded’) by Turkey. I would think Assad would be plenty pissed about that, but ISIS seems to be picking them off pretty regularly with their ATGMs. I kind of feel sorry for the unfortunate guys stuck rattling around in those death-traps. Well, not that sorry, but still…

Joseph Scott

Their tank battalions are officially 41 tanks: 2 BN command, 3x companies of 13 each, broken into 1 CO command tank, and 3 platoons of 4 tanks each. Obviously this official battalion are Sabras. I’m not sure about these 90 tanks with FSA. Obviously, 2 battalions would be 82, and 3 would be 123, so maybe they are understrength, or someone miscounted. In any case, they are certainly M-60A3s, and if they have 3 more battalions, this would be the entire tank strength of both the 5th Armoured and 39th Mechanised Brigades, which are the local units this battlegroup would be drawn from. (They seem to use a 2+2 battalion format for both armoured and mechanised brigades these days, making the titles and empty distinction.)

I forgot the artillery battalion, which would be 15x 155mm SPHs of some kind. They have 3 or 4 different models.

A mechanised battalion has 41x ACV-15 APCs (upgraded M113s with turrets, just like the Dutch-Belgian YPR), organised just like their tank battalions, so a mech company will deploy 3 platoons each of 4 vehicles, with 8 man dismounted squads. They will have another 12-13 MRAPs as logistics vehicles, and 9-10 Cobras with with TOWs and 107mm mortars. (I think it is 6x TOWs and 3 mortars, but I’ve never seen exact figures).

The “Special Forces” are mostly likely a half-battalion, @225 troops of the 1st Commando Brigade, and aren’t what we would call ‘special forces’ but rather, physically fit conscripts analogous to US Army Rangers. So really, just some better than average infantry.

Tank losses: yes, they seem to have lost between 11-14 of them already, at least 2 of which were knocked out by SDF from Afrin. The Sabras don’t seem to have the full armour package the Israelis offer for them: no reactive armour seen so far, just some appliqué conventional armour. All in all, everything they’ve got is pretty helpless from any angle against any modern ATGM. Either they are being cocky, or callous.

Pave Way IV

Interesting – thanks for all that. Before reading your reply, I had just read Aaron Stein’s article WILL TURKEY PRESENT TRUMP WITH A FAIT ACCOMPLI IN SYRIA? on War on the Rocks. He said (speaking of al Bab):

To support this operation, informed sources have told me that the Turkish military has increased the number of forces in country, although the total force still appears limited to special operations units from Bolu and Tunceli, who are fighting alongside an armored brigade.

Which would make them (according to GlobalSecurity’s Order of Battle) these independent brigades:

2nd Commando Brigade: Bolu (4th Army, 4th Corps) 4th Commando Brigade: Tunceli (3rd Army, 8th Corps)

I’m not so sure about the supposed FSA tanks. The reports are kind of sketchy and who knows if the images posted are accurate at all. I can’t see them training up either Turkmen or al Zenki to operate tanks and handing them over to them. I wonder if the FSA just has a few odd ones they have collected over the last few months from ISIS and are just tagging along with the Turk armor. Or maybe the whole thing is just cover for Turkey to make it look a little less like they have an armored brigade invading Syria.

Also interesting that there was plenty of bluster a few weeks back about Russian/Syrian air defense shutting down all Turkish air ops in Syria. I keep seeing reports of Turkish air attacks, though. Here’s a video someone just tweeted. So apparently air ops against ISIS are OK, but (I guess) they can only use artillery on the YPG. What a madhouse.

Pave Way IV

Duh – forgot SouthFront’s own article from a few months ago:


Last pictures from al Bab show Firtinas on flatbeds, so I guess those will be used to level the city.

Joseph Scott

Well, you can see from the map on the SF article why I assume the tanks and mechanised infantry are from 5th Armoured and 39th Mechanised. For the others, sure, 1st Commando was just the closest in garrison. No reason at all they couldn’t get people from 2nd, 4th or both instead. Actually. given how many of their commando battalions they have deployed against the PKK (22 by one count!), they may be stuck pulling battalions or companies from random brigades for this mission. PKK seems to be giving them a whole lot more trouble than the media is reporting on.

I also saw some claims of Turkish airstrikes at al-Bab over the last week. This whole situation is so farcical, that if I was reading a novel, I would be rolling my eyes at the author’s lack of consistency right now. After all, last I checked, MIT was still running the routes IS is getting it’s supplies from! I wonder if the Turkish Army dislikes MIT as much as some of the military here dislikes the CIA? However, there is a certain logic to letting the Turks use air against IS but not SDF. Syria is reinforcing the notion that the Turks are only accepted there in an anti-IS role (and therefore are expected to pack up and go home at some point!) The Turks playing along indicates they aren’t openly challenging Syria. SDF in it’s turn has been making gestures like raising the Syrian flag in villages in liberates near ar-Raqqa. Even with the artillery, the Turks seem to be directing the much larger share at IS, so no one points fingers at the smaller number of rounds they throw at SDF. Everyone is putting on theatre here.

I agree the extra tanks aren’t being driven by FSA, except as far as some dressed up Turkish troops have been designated as ‘FSA.’ Or maybe they’ve hired some former military as contractors to operate them. That last situation seems increasingly popular these days in so many countries. It’s getting to the point where the military is just there to provide the training, so they can re-hire the same people as trained contractors who are fully deniable. (Martin van Crevald, in The Transformation of War, predicted that would be the principle form armies in the field would take this century.) They seem to be using some variation of that to disguise the presence of a whole additional armoured/mechanised brigade. I figured they’ve have to deploy multiple heavy brigades to get anything serious done here. Looks like they agree.


Dear friend, yes there was a typo. Thank you for the feedback.

Pave Way IV

Thanks for all the hard work on this site and the vids from your entire team, SouthFront. I see more comments being posted lately. Are your site visits growing?


It’s something like this: https://www.similarweb.com/website/southfront.org#overview

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