Turkey seeks to expand its military mission in Syria to two other areas: western Aleppo and Afrin, bringing its forces in a potential military confronation with the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Ankara believes that this move would provide “a real environment of peace and safety” in the area. Turkey says that Kurdish militias, which are a core of the US-backed SDF, are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) operating in Turkey and northern Iraq. Ankara designates the PKK a terrorist group.
“It’s been considered that the observation mission of the Turkish armed forces in the Idlib de-escalation zone is continuing successfully, and such a mission being performed near Western Aleppo and Afrin would provide a real environment of peace and safety,” the Turkish National Security Council said in a statement.
The Turkish military is involved in an “observation mission” in the militant-held part of the Syrian province of Idlib. Turkish troops are deployed there within the framework of the agreements reached in the Ankara format with Russia, Iran and Syria. The observation mission is aimed at reducing the fighting between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and militants operation in the province.
However, the things are not going well. An intense fighting is now ongoing between the SAA and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) west of the Aleppo-Khanasser-Ithriyah highway.
At the same time, no clashes have been reported between Turkish forces and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham near the Turkish observation posts in the province of Idlib. This allows to suggest two points:
- Ankara has found a common ground with the terrorist group in the provicne of Idlib;
- Ankara cannot or don’t want to stop Hayat Tahrir al-Sham units attacking the Syrian Army.