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Turkish Forces Operation In Al-Bab. Additional Details Revealed

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Turkish Forces Operation In Al-Bab. Additional Details Revealed

Click to see the full-size map. Source: @Tutomap/Twitter

Yesterday, SF reported that Turkish forces storming the key ISIS-controlled town of al-Bab in the Syrian province of Aleppo. The Turkish Armed Forces and pro-Turkey militant groups deployed singificant forces (up to 9,000 fighters) for the operation and successfully used the crisis of Syrian government forces near Palmyra to advance in Aleppo province.

But what battle plan do Turkish forces have?

According to aviable photo and video evidence from the ground, forward detachments of Turkish forces have deployed near the al-Bab silos and deployed to cut off the roads of M4 and 212 that could be used by the Syrian army and Kurdish YPG forces to advance on al-Bab.

If Ankara-led forces are able to cut off these roads and to successfully outflank the area of al-Bab and to secure the area west and southwest of the town, they will pose themselves in a winning situation in military and diplomatic terms.

In this case, the Syrian army will likely not been able to openly assist YPG forces in their operations in the area because this will mean a direct confronation with the Turkish Armed Forces. The Erdogan regime will likely be able to seize the town and to improve its position in negotiations with Damascus and Moscow.

Turkish Forces Operation In Al-Bab. Additional Details Revealed

Geolocation by @QalaatAlMudiq/Twitter

Turkish Forces Operation In Al-Bab. Additional Details Revealed

Turkish Forces Operation In Al-Bab. Additional Details Revealed

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Ronald Thomas West

Based on Turkey’s historic record with ISIS, the terrorists will be evacuated and encouraged to ‘immigrate’

Vafadar Rizvanli

the ones committed suicide in Brussel and Paris actually were prisoned in Istanbul and after they demanded by EU with the argument that they are EU citizens they were given to Nederland. Although Turkish Intelligence warned EU that these people potentially related with ISIS they were ignored and got freedom..so how u now can spoke about historic reports blah blah?? Turkey is located between Syria and Europe and has more than 800 km ground borders. If EU could not avoid Syrian people to enter to its borders and at the same time if EU is not able to monitor its citizens who join to ISIS, you could not blame Turkey for that. Turkey is now building 800 km long physical wall to prevent unauthorized border crossing from syrian side which will help hopefully

Ronald Thomas West

Here is a story Erdogan didn’t like, in fact didn’t like so much, he shut the paper down. How about Turkey supplied the sarin gas blamed on Assad? You think Erdogan hasn’t been in bed with the Salafis in Syria? Think again Monsieur blah-blah:


The Zaman story is preserved at my website.

Daithe O Fathaigh

Back stabbing Turks cannot be trusted just like the US…

Eric Holt

You are looking right …there is some form of coalition there, one way or another…and Syria and Russia are allowing too much to happen without response…like they are also condoning something here….But in the long run, it Turkey will drive further on in if not checked soon. That´s just the mentality that exists in middle east.


Who is backstabbing who? We are supporting a terrorist organisation that is responsible for more than 80 suicide bombings resulting in 1700 civilian deaths in a NATO country! We are doing this under the pretext that this particular terrorist organisation is fighting ISIS in Syria. Well Hezbollah is also fighting ISIS. Will we support and arm them too?

Marek Pejović

So, what after the Turks take Al Bab? here’s my 0.02$.

Even if Al-Bab is taken, this doesn’t mean end of the world.

the main question after taking al bab is: where to go next?
Turkish forces will probably not go west nor south into SAA or (even worse) to Kuwreis base. because if he does, and if he engages SAA directly, gloves are off, and Turkey will likely feel the full force of artillery, air force and armored units, plus russian air force protecting it’s base in Kuwreis.

therefore, only one option is left: going east. Erdogan could ofcourse just proclaim the operation over, but knowing him he will likely look to attack Manbij. alternativelly, this kind of operation will be easy to provoke. his forces will then be drawn into the conflict on both sides of the turkish incursion, because there is no way afrin kurds will let the kobane kurds fight turkey alone. in this war of attrition the SAA can simply supply the afrin kurds (but also Kobane kurds via airlifts if they align with general ideas of russians) with weapons which can devastate the turkish units. SAA can also provide quiet support by providing artillery units and intelligence. wither way, kurds are a powerful player in future of the conflict.
SAA can then usethe weakening turkish presence to simply take Al-Bab.

time is against Erdogan, as looking a few months in advance, we can see the trends of Mosul liberated and PMUs being now in Syria boosting position of Syrian governement, and Trump’s government taking office, which will likely be more open to actually standing behind international law and backing russia in this one.
in short, if Erdogan attacks kurds next, he’s on the hook. and he certainly looks like he will, because i dont think he will dare go near Kuwreis.


btw this development can be very useful to Putin to finally get the kurds in line with his ideas. nothing short of a good pounding will make them understand it seems, and Erdogan is bringing his club with him.

it might be for these reasons that neither syrian government nor russian government seem to react too concerned with prospect of turks taking al-bab.

we can certainly expect diplomatic resolution to this, but it will likely come as salvation to Erdogan when turkish forces are mauled and he understands he needs to get out of there quickly. and an UN resolution might be just the bailout ticket he needs.

otherwise, there is also the option of TOS-1, MiG 29 SU 34, and T-90 combined with SAA, Hezbollah and possibly YPG and PMUs.

Eric Holt

Just the fact that Turkey has surged into Syrian territory and how well they have done so far tells that they are serious. There is no reason they wont take any of the options you say they wont. Firstly, turkey has the eight largest army in the world and there is nothing in the region that will stop them if they so choose. Russia, would be a major dampener in the works, but only for a short period. Like you say..turkey is in Syria now…and like syria..it is backed by the full force of a national army…..one quite a lot bigger than Syria´s. Syria´s game is over now that Turkey has entered. But what to do with Russia. Well…Russia cant sustain a full war with turkey. Its problem is logistics..and turkeys Nato partners….This has been Russia´s fear all along…..turkey entering the war. Why hasn´t Russia started shooting down Turkish planes yet? Simply because Russia is all talk and not ready to start ww3. At moment, there are Turkish, israelí or even saudí and American f16´s flying all over. Imagine the reprisal if Russia got an American or israelí plane by mistake. None of them fuck around with response. The truth is…..Turkey just called Russia´s bluff…and fucked al Assaid´s all over again.

Brad Isherwood


Russia blew away lots of Turk property and Turk trash… who drove those trucks


That was prior to 15 July 2016. The Turks are now allied with Russia and China. They are now a dialogue member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and on the verge to becoming a full member.

Marek Pejović

nope, and… no.
firstly, turkish leadership isnt on russian nor chinese side – if they’d be that, they wouldn’t do their own thing by invading Syria. they have THEIR OWN little geopolitical goals for syria and it includes ethnic clensing of turkish occupied zone and settling their turkmen proxies there, and then pushing – via reality of military might there – concessions for this after military withdrawal. with this, turkey would have a permanent loyal population in central north syria close to Aleppo, which would make it influence the situation in syria, at least in the north. not to mention securing a smuggling corridor for whatever’s needed after the war.
secondly, membership of SCO is a sound bite more than a reality (even if turks chip in an aircraft carrier as a goodwill gift), because SCO countries are not stupid. they KNOW turkey will be using THEM as a bargaining chip while also retaining it’s position in NATO. talk about a viper in your basket. nope, chinese are not as stupid to just jump into it. trust me, NOTHING there is “on the verge of”. few talks, press conference, but not more.


Just explain to me how Turkish Airforce Jets are running bombing/Cap missions in Syrian airspace then when S-400’s are active there.
Also explain to me the repeated Kremlin announcements congratulating Mr. Erdogan.


Maybe time for Putin/Assad to play the Kurdish card. What Erdogan does in Syria can be brought home to Istanbul. What will President Trump do because inauguration isn’t far off? Almost as good as Game of Thrones!


Putin/Assad/Erdogan are actually all working together.

Marek Pejović

Eric, if you have a more-less serious army like turkish, one and you’re serious, trust me, you devote serious resources to your goal, not 1000 or so fighters (plus 7000 militia scrape-togethers) some artillery and few tanks, and you certainly don’t take 3 months to limp south. i’d say they lost their cool and invaded before being serious. and now we’re waiting for Erdogan’s mistake of attacking Manbij.
btw. i dont see anywhere the full force of turkish army in syria. few Firtinas, few M-60B3, some personel, and that’s it. if that’s “full force”, they can pack up and leave immediately before they humiliate themselves like Saudis in Yemen. anyways, the Kurds… the Kurds.


Breaking….In Palmyra. The city is surrounded, captured in part, it is an attempt to attack the insurgents from the air – raids occur aircraft and helicopters, but to no avail. The Russian military base in Palmyra seriously damaged.

LIH captured airbase Tiyas T-4 east of Palmyra (the air base, where the spring were burned our 4 helicopters), based on the destroyed Syrian MiG-23, which failed to take off. In other situations, the former. The government has no power to carry out counter-offensive.

In Aleppo, another truce. Officially – at the time of exit of civilians from the fighting zones. Unofficially – there is a trade for the withdrawal of Western military instructors. The agreement has already been received, the offensive will continue as soon as the partners will be safe.


There is a de facto agreement between Mr. Assad, Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan whereby Turkey will capture and control Al-Bab, Manbij, Raqqah and Al Hassakah in exchange for the Syrian Government regaining control of Aleppo. Turkey will cite a threat to its Sovereign enclave in Syria: the tomb of Suleyman Shah as a pretext for taking such action. Then there is a de facto agreement between Mr. Putin, Mr. Erdogan and Iran on Turkey capturing and controlling Sinjar and Talafar in Iraq. Turkey will cite protection of Turkmen populations there and the threat of PKK transferring its camps to Sinjar as a pretext for doing so. After Turkey’s Al-Bab offensive the Free Syrian Army will step back to a passive role of controlling secured territory. The Turkish Armed Forces will then make a full conventional assault on Manbij. Turkey has amassed approximately 200,000 soldiers on the Syrian/Iraqi border and has been preparing for a large scale ground invasion for the past year. It has also acquired significant armour and heavy weapons for such offensive. One Turkish contractor more recently received a single order for 1,600 x 2,000 lb Laser-Guided Smart Munitions with GPS, INS guidance. This means the Turks are preparing for something huge!

Marek Pejović

good info!
well, turkish ideas look good on paper, but they’re hardly doable. it boils down to cost; how much conscript death can turkey endure? a lot of kurds will die, but also a lot of turks because it’s definitelly not smart to invade kurdish heartland especially if they had so much time to dig in and prepare. they could have done it in 2013.
Sinjar will be claimed by KRG before it falls to the turks, they consider it theirs.
and then there’s a question what if russians start arming the kurds to counter the turks? you arm the YPG and you’ll see wonders. and then, what if Trump decides to support the kurds, but this time for real? after all, they’re the last proxy americans can use,especially if he really intends to fight ISIS. it’s game of thrones man, plans rarely work out predictably.


Had you stated the above prior to 15 July 2016 I would have agreed with you. But today the situation is very different. The Turks are coordinating everything with Moscow and Moscow will now go to great lengths to convince Turkey to abandon the NATO orbit, including but not limited to abandoning the Kurdish cause. The Turkish Armed Forces is also not the same it was a decade ago. They now have 4 dedicated IMINT Satellites, their own communication satellites etc. But above-all they now have a locally supplied force. They produce their own armed drones which are vital for asymmetric urban warfare with unlimited indigenous hellfire equivalents. However the biggest notable change is the fact that the Turkish Land Forces Command has reduced from 1.2 million conscripts to a 400,000 highly trained force (150,000 of these being paid professional soldiers).

Joseph Scott

But, the Mad Sultan has also been seriously demoralising his armed forces, undermining the principles of Ataturk they are supposed to defend, and destroying their secular, professional foundation that made them better than other regional forces by reappointing Islamist officers the military had thrown out for being t0o overtly ideological. He also has a war going on with PKK that has sucked in 22 Commando battalions (of 26!) on top of all the gendarmie units involved, plus air support, and they still aren’t actually winning.

Also, shrinking the conscript intake hasn’t substantially improved training standards, and anyway, even the Commando battalions are still heavily conscript. Also, ironically, while going over to professionals gives you longer training and more experience, it also tends to lower the average level of talent and intelligence of the force. Conscription is often one of the best recruiting tools, and the broader a slice of the population the better.

Finally, I don’t think they can logistically support having half their land forces on the border. Road density alone would be impossible to manage. 50,000 is more likely, and that will only be maybe 10,000 infantry at best. And then there is the road density over the border: they can’t just throw all these people in one place. They need road space, and manageable march columns and supply convoys. It’s not quite as simple as you make it sound.


What you conveniently forget is that Turkey has bases in Northern Iraq and a Sovereign enclave in Syria.

Turkish Military airlift capabilities are also unmatched in the region:

Fixed-Wing Airlift Capacity:
43x CASA C-235
10x A400M Atlas
16x Transall C-160
18x C-130 Hercules


60x Eurocopter Cougar (20x Airforce, and 40x operated by the Army)
200+ Bell Huey’s (60 operated by the Air Force, 140+ Operated by the Army)
120+ Blackhawks ( Upgraded by Aselsan. )
11x Ch-47F Chinooks

Also, conscript or not, the Turkish Armed Forces has daily experience with urban warfare and asymmetric threats.

Joseph Scott

The fixed wing aircraft need suitable runways, of course. Which of those forward facilities can their aircraft land at?

I don’t think the Turkish are bad troops, exactly. They are the second best in the region after Israel, mostly because they have a decent system for selecting, training, and promoting leaders, but Erdogan is really undermining the foundations of that quality, and I think they are pretty demoralised right now.


@disqus_7FVwwc7ERh:disqus I was thinking more about paratroopers. The Turks like to use paratroopers and this is how they invaded Cyprus in 1974. Many Turkish Army personnel are jump qualified.

Also, Turkey’s engineering corps must not be forgotten. They can pave temporary roads as they move in. Turkey also produces the Samur Amphibious Bridge Rig and thus the Turkish Army can cross waterways with ease. What I am trying to get at is that the Turks can easily field 200,000 soldiers in Iraq and Syria if they wanted to. Their mechanized infantry is also one of the best in the region.

Erdogan has zero control over the training of Turkish Armed Forces personnel no matter what people say in Turkey. He only picks and chooses the General’s who will be at the forefront. Those General’s even the ones he picks are all at NATO standards.

Joseph Scott

I don’t see paradrops as feasible, given the state of air defences in Syria. That’s an easy target shoot for Syria. In Iraq, that’s another story.

Like I said, I agree that the Turkish military as a whole is second only to Israel, locally. The negative effect of Erdogan isn’t a matter of interfering in training. First, the Turkish military has always seen itself as the final defenders of Ataturk’s legacy, which is a secular, constitutional, modern republic. That is a deep part of their military culture. But Erdogan is trying to destroy that. He is trying to Islamicise the state, altering the constitution to allow him to hang on to power and become more dictator and less elected president, altering the laws to bring them further from the European secular standard and closer to Islamic law, taking control of the courts and make them beholden to him by arresting the judges and prosecutors who don’t support his vision, destroying the freedom of the press, etc. Traditionally, this means the duty of the Turkish military is to overthrow him, which they failed to do. In a certain sense, they just suffered a terrible defeat, and their country is being taken over by ‘the enemy.’ Ataturk would have had Erdogan shot as a traitor, and many Turkish officers know that very well.

Second, and related to the first, organisations which promote ideology tend to under-perform compared to non-ideological ‘professional’ ones. The moment some idea of ideology appears, it tends to override logical, professional considerations. Look around across the world and through history to see that played out everywhere. Islam, for a variety of reasons, happens to be especially pernicious in this regard. It simply does not promote sound, objective thinking, unless maybe you are talking about Sufis, who already seek to keep their religion a private thing. One of the key steps Ataturk took to ensure his new military wasn’t anything like the corrupt force he had served in was to make the military purely secular. Officers who displayed some overt, noticeable ideology while in uniform, or even too loudly out of it, were dismissed. Erdogan has been re-instating Islamist officers the services dismissed for unprofessional conduct in the hundreds, most notably the former special forces commander who had been helping to train IS people before they went south. In doing so, he is questioning the tradition the military is founded on, degrading the discipline and fracturing the cohesion of the officer corps.

All that is pretty key, because historically, the state of leadership has always been a much more decisive factor than the relative training of individual soldiers. The main advantage Turks have over nearby armies is just that: better leadership from a more professional, and less tribal-political officer corps. Erdogan wants the same ideologised, politicised officer corps that all his incompetent neighbours have.


The Turks have an Ottoman military tradition which was also practiced during Ataturk’s rule. No matter how ideological Turkey becomes or however Islamic it becomes it will never abandon discipline and command structures. In fact, the Turkish Armed Forces has experienced one of the most advanced technological enlightenment periods in its history of late and ironically under Erdogan’s Government. Yes, President Erdogan maybe an Islamist but his roots come from a form of political Islam that regards the sciences very highly. Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan who was Erdogan’s tutor was in fact a German educated Chemical and Mechanical Engineer. The TAF under the successive Erdogan Governments have placed significant emphasis on R&D and indigenous development efforts. This has been bearing its fruits in the form of Turkish Military platforms. Turkey is today exporting cruise missile technology to the US (SOM-J). I have been following the political developments in Turkey very closely and I put some blame in part to baseless accusations and propaganda from all facets of Turkish society. Leaving us in the West to presume that Turkey is ruled by a dictator. However, a close inspection has revealed to me that President Erdogan enjoys popular support in Turkey. Yes he is also seeking Constitutional amendments to give the Presidency more powers but what he is in essence doing is converting Turkey from a Parliamentary system to a Presidential system no different to what we have here in the US and similar to what there is in France and Russia.


Both Erdogan and Erbakan were fundamentalists in disguise who had benefitted from science only for social mobility and arbitration in governmental offices.


Moreover, the so-called Ottoman military tradition was based on Enver’s reforms after the last Balkan War and was applied mostly by revolutionary officers of Ittihad-Terakki during the First World War. Such a tradition is based on rational aspects of warfighting instead of Islamic principles of martydom. Moreover, it is ethical because concept of duty, which had been a product of the Enlightenment, was the epicenter of this tradition. However, this tradition does not exist in Turkish Army anymore because its last practitioners were expelled or jailed during Ergenekon conspiracy.

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