On May 28, the Russian military deployed reinforcements at al-Qamishli Airport in northeastern Syria in what appears to be a response to Turkey’s recent threats to the region.
According to Russian and Syrian sources, the reinforcements included a number of Su-34 fighter bombers and Ka-52 attack helicopters. Last year, the Russian military stepped up its presence at al-Qamishli Airport turning it into its main base in northeastern Syria.
The deployment came amid reports of ongoing preparations by Turkish military and its proxies to launch a new large-scale operation against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern and northeastern Syria.
In what appears to be an attempt to warn Turkey against making such a move, units from the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Military Police conducted a joint patrol with officials from the SDF along the frontlines in the northeastern region in the morning. The patrol was escorted by several Russian attack helicopters.
Prior to the joint patrol, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces dropped a number of flash bombs over Turkish-occupied areas in the northeastern region in a clear warning to Turkey’s proxies.
Speaking following a cabinet meeting on May 23, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara will launch a military operation in Syria to link up two areas already under Turkish control in the northern and northeastern regions of the country.
Since then, the Turkish military and its proxies deployed large forces in the two regions and stepped up their artillery strikes on SDF-held areas.
The US has warned Turkey against launching a new operation in Syria. However, unlike Russian and Syrian forces, the US-led coalition didn’t make any moves to deter the Turkish military and its proxies.
It won’t possible for Turkey to launch a new military operation against the SDF in Syria without a green light from the US. Washington may grant Ankara a green light if it withdraws its objection to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. Due to this, the SDF’s only chance to survive is likely to improve its relations with Moscow and Damascus, who maintain large forces in the northern and northeastern region.