Turkey is increasing its military presence in northern Syria.
On September 8, Turkish and US forces carried out a first joint patrol east of the Euphrates in the framework of the ‘safe zone’ agreement recently reached by Ankara and Washington. The patrol involving at least 6 Turkish military vehicles and supported by unmanned aerial vehicles took place in the area between Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ain.
Earlier, US-backed rebels, often described by mainstream media as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), removed a part of their fortifications and withdrew military equipment from the area.
The start of joint patrols and withdrawal of SDF equipment from the border area became a diplomatic victory of Aknara. Turkey describes Kurdish armed groups that are the core of the SDF as terrorist organizations and a threat to its national security.
Meanwhile, the Turkish military reinforced its observation post near the town of Surman in the southeastern countryside of Idlib with at least four armoured vehicles. The Surman post is one of twelve such posts established last year in the framework of the Astana Process. The post is located 15km southeast of Ma`arat al-Nu`man, the biggest urban center in southern Idlib. Many pro-government sources describe Ma`arat al-Nu`man as the main target of the possible Syrian Army advance in the event of resumption of military hostilities in Greater Idlib. Therefore, the Turkish decision to reinforce its positions there indicate that even Ankara does not expect that the new ceasefire may last in the area for a long time.
Iranian-backed forces have reportedly deployed reinforcements on the frontlines with Turkish-occupied areas in northern Aleppo. Reports indicate that Iranian-backed units have deployed in the town of Marnaz and the nearby Minaq airbase.
Maraanaz and the Minaq airbase are jointly controlled by the Syrian Army and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units. Several units of the Russian Military Police are also deployed in the nearby area.