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Syria: Turks Fail To Take Al-Bab – “Rebels” Die In Infighting


Syria: Turks Fail To Take Al-Bab - "Rebels" Die In Infighting

Turkish Leopard 2A4 tank at al-Bab

Originally appeared at MoonOfAlabama

This week the Turkish President Erdogan visited the Gulf states. He asked for bigger investment in Turkey and for cash for his project to occupy more parts of Syria. A week ago Erodgan had claimed:

“Al-Bab is about to be captured. Manbij and Raqqah are next,” Erdogan said, adding their number one priority was to form a safe zone in the country.

This week he brought his Army Chief of Staff Arak to the Gulf to declare victory. Several Erdogan friendly media outlets in Turkey (any other left?) reported:

Operation Euphrates Shield has entered a new phase in al-Bab, as the offensive stage is over now that the town has largely been recaptured from Daesh.“The operation in al-Bab is over,” Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar said at a press conference in Qatar on Wednesday during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s trip to Gulf countries.

Silence now dominates the area that was once scene to heavy clashes. Turkish tanks patrol al-Bab’s streets and the Syrian opposition has pressed a major advance.

That claim was a huge lie. While Turkish forces had earlier taken some outskirts of Al-Bab and claimed to own 40% of the city they were by then stuck and later in full retreat.

Yesterday the Turkish forces lost the Al-Hikma hospital and the automatic bakery they had earlier captured and retreated from all inner districts of Al-Bab. At least 90% of Al-Bab is still in Islamic State hands.

Geolocated video by the Islamic State and Turkish supported forces show that the Turks are back at their starting points at the outer city limits.

Syria: Turks Fail To Take Al-Bab - "Rebels" Die In Infighting

Click to see the full-size map

As many as 430 Syrian civilians have been killed by Turkish forces and their auxiliaries. Just last week the MI-6 sponsored Syrian Observatory said that Turkish bombing killed more than 60 in Al-Bab. It confirmed videos posted by the Islamic State which showed killed children and destroyed houses. Unlike with every death cause by fighting between Takfiris and the Syrian Army no “western” main-stream media picked up on that.

Turkey started to invade Syria between Aleppo and Euphrates exactly six month ago. The aim was to prevent the Syrian Kurds from taking an east-to-west corridor along the Turkish border. Such would have closed off Turkey from further influence in Syria. The Turks had hired some of the Syrian “rebels” they had earlier supported to fight the Syrian government to now fight the Islamic State and the Kurds. The Takfiris of Ahrar al-Sham are their storm troopers.

The first three month showed some rapid progress. The Islamic State was bribed to move out of the northern Syrian areas and the Turks moved in. But in December they reached Al-Bab, a city east of Aleppo with originally some 60,000 inhabitants. There resistance from the Islamic State picked up and the Turkish progress stopped. Turkish armor, often placed without cover in sight of the front line, was destroyed in mass by Islamic State anti-tank missiles. Casualties climbed and the mercenaries of the FSA refused to continue the fight.

As of Thursday casualties number so far were at least 64 Turkish soldiers killed and 386 wounded. Of the FSA auxiliaries at least 469 were killed and 1,712 wounded. A dozen main battle tanks were confirmed as lost. Unofficial sources claim that more than 30 Turkish tanks were destroyed as well as 20+ armored infantry carriers – nearly two battalions wasted for no significant gain.

The Free Syrian Army mercenaries Erdogan hired to take on the Kurds and the Islamic State are now mostly useless. They do not fight efficiently but profusely waste ammunition for spray-and-pray show offs (vid).

To compensate for that Turkey injected its own special Forces and now has some 3,000 soldiers involved in the operation. But that did not help –  losses continued and no progress was made.

Another 5,000 Turkish soldiers were now send (Tur) to join the operation. It was also announced that Turkey plans to erect three garrisons in Syria. On top of the eluding Al-Bab Erdogan now also wants to take the Islamic State held Raqqa and the Kurdish held Manbij.

But who takes such announcements serious? After the alleged coup against him Erdogan kicked out every officer who was not, in his view, sufficiently loyal to him. His air-force was hurt the most. Allegedly only 0.4 qualified pilots per plane are available now instead of the regular 2-3. It takes up to a decade to train up new pilots.

The ground army may be in slightly better shape but NATO’s second biggest military is no longer the serious force it once was. The whole Turkish operation is in disarray. Moreover – there is no plan for the day after or any exit strategy. Decisions and announcements change from day to day.

The current Turkish plans contradict the Astana agreements concluded with Russia, Syria and Iran. Only a short, temporary role for Turkish forces was agreed upon. Al-Bab was supposed to be taken by Syrian forces. Syria has officially protested at the UN against the Turkish invasion. But neither Syria nor Russia or Iran have started to fight the Turkish forces. “Just let the Turks bleed,” seems to be their current slogan.

Erdogan set the date for a referendum in Turkey over a new constitution. The vote in April would legalize his quasi dictatorial powers. But the quagmire in Syria and the stalemate at Al-Bab will cost him. Why choose a dictator prone to lose his fights? Unconfirmed rumors are swiveling around claiming that Erdogan is trying to bribe the Islamic State to leave Al-Bab. Such a move would fit Erdogan’s motives. He needs the victory and does not shy away from otherwise illegitimate methods.

South of Al-Bab the Syrian army is moving towards the Euphrates. It will cut off the Turkish forces path to Raqqa and Manbij. In north-east Syria formerly Turkish sponsored Takfiris fight each other. Jund al-Aqsa, allied with Islamic State, is mass killing “moderate rebels” allied with Al-Qaeda. Hundreds of “rebel” fighters and prisoners have lost their lives in such infighting.

In the south “moderate rebels” and al-Qaeda try to attack the city of Daraa, held by regular Syrian forces. The attacks failed. Jordan closed its borders and no longer takes care of wounded “rebels”. The Military Operations Room in Jordan has stopped all supplies and payments to anti-Syrian forces. Only Israel is still secretly helping them.

Syrian government forces mop up isolated rebel strongholds near Damascus. Some Syrian army forces are moving to retake Palmyra. The east-Syrian garrison in Deir Ezzor, isolated and attacked by the Islamic State, is still holding out. Bigger operations against the Takfiris in the south and north-west are planned but the smart move now is to just sit tight and let the enemies, Takfiris as well as Turks, continue in their self destruction.



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  • Trustin Judeau

    Syrian army started attack on Qaboun – https://twitter.com/MIG29_/status/832923201168670720

  • gold37

    Turkey needs to go back to where they came from!

    • ice7

      They came ftom Mongolia in 1300ac.Propably this is the most suitable place for them…

      • Solomon Krupacek

        turkish nations belong not to mongolian, but iranian .ethmic groups.

        • dutchnational

          In fact you are wrong here. Iranian languages, like Iranian, Dari, Pashtun, Ossetian, Kurdish etc are indo european languages. Turkic languages, like Turkish, Azerbaijani, Ughiur, Kazakh, Yakutian, are not indo european.

          So, you are wrong.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            it is so diffucult tu unrestnad i wrote ethnical? in language you are rigt and this is also far from mongolian. thanks you supported me and showed, turksa are nom mongols.

        • Bob

          That is nonsense – Turkic people, including their migratory sub-groups like Tartars in Crimea, share no common language with Iranians. Rather, Turkic ethnic groups are widely considered to have Mongolian origins. Modern day Turkish people have a much greater DNA mix than their ancestors, due to the Ottoman empire and its expansion. Iranians are direct descendants of a different and far earlier established civilization in central Asian region – pre-Islamic ancient Persian empire, that fought the ancient Greeks for supremacy in Asia Minor and the easternmost control of Mediterranean Sea.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            i wrote ethnic, not language. and turkish languege goup is fifferent hen mongolian check it.

  • Trustin Judeau

    Al Bab operation was very badly executed.There is referendum coming in Turkey and Erdogan is not going to risk the life of the Turkish soldiers in Al Bab which means that only TFSA will fight there.

    • dutchnational

      In a interview with one of the defected turkish Nato headquarter officers, he claimed turkish casualties around Al Bab were much higher, around or over 300.

      To me this seems probable as Turkey has also been understating losses in SE Turkey, as many tanks, APC’s were destroyed, quite often costing the lives of their crew, and TSK had to take over much of the front line fighting.

  • observerBG

    “South of Al-Bab the Syrian army is moving towards the Euphrates. It will cut off the Turkish forces path to Raqqa and Manbij.”

    Incorrect statement, Manbij is directly to the East of the Turkish controlled areas, close to the turkish border, and the turks could always attack it. SAA has no persence there and can not block the path to Manbij. As for Raqqa, the statement is correct, SAA could easily connect with the kurdish area and block the turkish path to Raqqa..


  • Red Tick Alert

    “Operation Euphrates Shield” …. how American could you be ?. Has anyone thought that someone is being played here ?.

  • alejoeisabel

    Nato will punish Turkey for its insolence. Turkey must learn to submit as a vassal state to the United States. Turkey has only one trump card, and its called Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Ethnically and historically, Turkey has more in common with Russia and China than with the Germany and the United States. Turkey squanders its natural advantages of location and the hub of East West trade. Turkey lacks vision. It is pleased just being a Nato vassal state.

    • dutchnational

      You are right. Turkey has a shared history of five centuries of mutual war, from early 15th century to 1918. Turkish Crimean slave raids, from app 1440 to app 1770, killed millions and around 3 million russian, ukrainian and moldovan slaves were dragged away, donating much of present day turkish DNA.

      So Turkey has indeed much in common with Russia.

  • PZIVJ1943

    South Front, this is a great article!
    Erdogan is talking a lot of BS for news within Turkey.
    Does CNN control one of their news outlets?
    On to Raqqa! He may get there after hell freezes over!

  • Adam Houbař

    erdogan is like stalin, he also send many of experienced solders and oficiers to the gulag, and then almost lost in WWII, only huge amount of people in Soviet union and the size of the country helped him finnaly win. but who helps tursk, when sdf finihs with is and start fight with his army on syria. then maybe will go even to turkey for making his big kurdistan dream and erdogan lost…



  • ChiefWiggum

    does anyone know what does the constitutional remake give to Erdogan? I’ve heard that ‘will give him more power’ but this is not a propper answer

    • dutchnational

      As far as I understand he takes on the power of the PM, whose function will be abolished, he can appoint part of the high court, can dissolve parliament, can issue binding decrets and is only answerable to parliament if they have 400 out of 550 votes.

      In practice he will be a dictator without real counterweights.

  • Free man

    The Turkish army is a paper tiger. Many soldiers with advanced weaponry who don’t know how to fight. embarrassing.

  • John Whitehot

    it’s not that they fight inefficiently or spray and pray, it’s that they have to put up a show for the press that’s recording them, so that it’s clear that they fight ISIS. Disgusting as usual.