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How Russian-Turkish ‘Safe Zone’ Deal Shapes Course Of Syrian Conflict

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The military crisis in northeastern Syria started by the Turkish military offensive on Kurdish militias amid the US troops withdrawal deflated.

On October 23, Turkey, Russia and Syria started implementing the ‘safe zone’ agreement reached by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier. Units of the Russian Military Police deployed in the border town of Kobani. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian Army will establish a total of 15 observation posts on the Turkish-Syrian border to the east of the Euphrates. The next steps are the withdrawal of Kurdish YPG units and their heavy weapons from the agreed buffer zone and the start of joint Russian-Turkish patrols.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria does not need to be expanded and that there is no need to carry out any new operations because the main goals had been achieved. Turkish sources say that some YPG fighters, that they call “terrorists”, may remain in the area, but do not expect large-scale military actions. Members of the Turkish-backed coalition of militant groups, the Syrian National Army, remain in the captured areas between Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry described the Russian-Turkish agreement as a positive move to reach a stability in Syria. The ministry recalled that Iran has always supported political measures to settle the conflict.

The United States, that are finalizing the main phase of the troops withdrawal, also seem to be satisfied with the outcome of the situation. During an October 23 press conference, President Donald Trump took a credit for the de-escalation in northeastern Syria, praised the ceasefire and announced that his administration was removing sanctions imposed on Turkey in response to its military action against Kurdish forces. The US President also confirmed that a “small number” of US troops would remain in the area “where they have the oil.”

Actions of Syria, the United States, Russia and Turkey demonstrate that all the key sides of the conflict accept the deal over northeastern Syria and move forward in the direction of a possible political settlement. The separatist faction within the Kurdish political and armed groups of northern Syria suffered a major blow. The only side unhappy with the outcome is Israel that strongly condemned Turkey’s actions and publicly supported the Kurdish separatism in Syria and Iraq as a tool against its never-ending campaign against the expanding Iranian influence. The US military presence in the al-Tanf border area is likely a goodwill gesture of Trump to his Israeli partners.

In the current conditions, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and therefore Kurdish militias and political factions, have the only option – to be reintegrated into the modern Syria. Moscow already warned them that if they decline to fulfil the safe-zone deal the Russians and the Syrian Army will have to open a way for the Turkish military machine that will crush them.

The YPG-led partisan war against the Damascus government and attempts to push the Syrian Army back from the provinces of Raqqah and Hasakah by military means is unlikely scenario. If the Kurdish leaders attempt to play this scenario, a vast majority of the Syrians, including the so-called ‘moderate opposition’, will consider them to be a bigger threat than ever ISIS.

In the coming months the situation in northern Syria will remain mostly stable. However, after the 2019-2020 winter, it’s expected  that factions affiliated with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) will step up terrorist activity in northern Syria, mainly the area of Afrin, and Kurdish-populated parts of Turkey Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia Regions. Big Turkish cities, like Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Gaziantep, may also become places of strident PKK attacks. The main targets will be personnel and facilities affiliated with the Army, the Gendarmerie General Command and Police. However, even in the event of success, such kind of activity will not force the Erdogan government to make cardinal changes in its policies towards Syria and the PKK-linked groups.

Another point of possible instability is Greater Idlib, where al-Qaeda affiliated militant groups still present along with the Turkish-backed ‘opposition’. The Damascus government and its allies repeatedly stated that the Idlib de-escalation agreement does not include terrorists. So, Ankara will have to neutralize them in its zone of responsibility or the Syrian Army will come to do so, like it was done in northern Hama in August.

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Karen Bartlett

Congratulations, Syria and Russia. And if the Israelis are unhappy, it’s got to be good. Now for Mr. Trump to get out of Syrian oil fields and for Idlib to be rid of terrorists!

World Wisdom

US, UK, France and Turkey still support terrorism in Syria. US and UK send $ millions to AQ in Idlib. US and UK Special Forces are in Idlib advising AQ.

Smith Ricky

Syria on the verge of becoming the most powerful army in the middle east.

Ceasar Polar

We are very far from that. Iran is the regional force in the middle east, after that the zionazi-scum from Occupied Palestine, then Hezbollah. All the rest is mush :)

Joe Dickson

They are fighting with museum pieces, the Republican Guard is a shadow of its former self and the SAA are a bunch of untrained conscripts. Without Russia they are nothing.


Forgot how they led major offensives without Russia? Did you miss the Latakia offensives and the breaking of the siege of Aleppo against tens of thousands of Jihadis, who received nonstop supplies by the west, israel, turkey and the gulf states while the SAA was on their own? And don’t forget the sieges of Kafraya, al-Fuah and Deir ez-Zor city. The terrorists in Idlib couldn’t capture Kafraya and Fuah, despite a 3-year long siege. What about the Deir ez-Zor siege, the SAA defended the city for 3 years. In 2016 Us airstrikes killed over 100 syrian soliders, isis held the eastern parts of the city and constantly shelled the government-held area and the saa still successfully defended deir ez-zor and it’s airport. All without russia. Now tell me that the saa is nothing without russia.


Syria may be capable—Joe is wrong; however, Iran, Israel, Hizbollah have all demonstrated that they r formidable

Mustafa Mehmet

Dreaming dreams again

Smith Ricky

Cry more

Mustafa Mehmet

Not at all.. your sweet dreams gonna be your nightmare

Smith Ricky

Sorry to burst your bubble, you cannot stop Russia’s plan. Cry even more Mustafa ?

Mustafa Mehmet

OK got it you are clueless Smith boy

Smith Ricky

Sorry that youre false caliphate didnt work out ?


He’s a troll. Just ignore him.


Iran is more powerful and so is Israel—they have advanced equipment and nukes…Syria has improved organizationally; Hizbollah and the Houthi forces r quite formidable despite that they r under funded numerical smaller

Icarus Tanović

As soon as Erdogan starts to give back Syrian land.


the russian ultimatum to turkey put the seal on the war, turkey won’t be a problem and idlib will be liberated shortly. the one remaining issue is the so called oil fields that for som reason the idiots in pentagon/cia/mic wish to hold on to, small from any kind of comparison, 400000bpd at most and the unhinged and unkempt states of A won’t persist and will have to retreat. question is where to – iraq, possibly for further relocation outside of iraq, turkey is a non starter so ……


Well, Verner, in diplomacy we can´t call the “deal” an ultimatum.


well, when putin turns his eyes on erdogan and says, it’s a deal too good to refuse, erdogan knows well what is best for him and turkey – and he gets to live another day and he knows that when israel is out of the way the middle east is an entirely new kettle of fish and he wants to be there when tht occurs.


Unfortunately, it is the perfect place from which to rearm ISIS, but hopefully they will arm ABORTION RIGHTS defending YPJ instead.


Suggest you abort any further presence on this forum, Jonathon Cohen.


After you.


It’s you, Jonathon, that is fixated on abortion as some demographic weapon.


The Russians have unloaded around forty tanks and dozens of trucks at Tartus this month – these are for the SAA, so an Idlib op is coming sooner or later, after SAA secures north-east border.


So what happens now about all the remaining Daesh cells in the country that, if we are led to believe, are going to have a ‘major resurgence’? Will they just be forgotten about and left to gain strength and influence to carry out more attacks across Syria?


They will be shipped back to Saudi Arabia, one by one, in nice cedar boxes.


We Americans should have armed the YPJ better before leaving, primarily with older, heavy weapons that are hard to smuggle into Turkey, such as M60 tanks, whatever T72s we could get from Bulgaria and Ukraine, and perhaps early Abrams. US forces can’t arm ISIS again if they aren’t there, so leaving has it’s bright side, but we should have provided more to the abortion rights defenders of YPJ. I’m not sure if it’s too late. Smaller but more modern weapons such as ATGMs risk being smuggled into fellow abortion rights defending Turkey, which is a problem, so YPJ should get big, old stuff.

stun ned

Russia is operating under soviet economic model. They are running around at the cost of their citizens being kept in poverty. It’s acceptable temporarily, but long term they are in trouble and will need West to bail them out again. I suggest they occupy Afghanistan again. This will help them get “there” quicker.


r u this stupid? obviously yes

stun ned

You want to tell me taking money from pensioners and development budgets to invest into army is a classic soviet model.

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