Turkish aircraft have tried to enter Syrian airspace in the north of Aleppo province, but have been stopped by Syrian and Russian military. Turkey plans to move deeper into the Syrian territory, despite sharp reaction of Damascus and Syrian Kurds.
Turkish fighter jets tried to enter Syrian airspace in the north of Aleppo province, but turned around after warnings from Syrian and Russian military, the Sputnik news agency reported, citing a source in the security forces. There are no reports about any other details of the incident.
Meanwhile, Ankara announced plans to expand its military operation in Syria, including the cities of al-Bab and Manbij.
Russia is not against further steps of Turkey, which announced its intention to move deeper into the Syrian territory, fighting against terrorism, however, Moscow insists on maintaining the country’s territorial integrity, the Izvestiya newspaper reported, citing sources in the Federation Council. At the same time, new plans of Ankara have met sharp reaction of Damascus and Syrian Kurds.
It is needed to focus all potential efforts on the fight against terrorism in Syria, at the same time, it is crucial that actions of various players should not lead to a collapse of the country, Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs, Andrey Klimov, told the newspaper, commenting on statements of the Turkish authorities regarding Ankara’s plans to move deep into Syrian territory in order to dislodge terrorists from al-Bab, located in Aleppo province, 35 km north-east of the administrative center.
“Now, all potential efforts should be focused on suppression of the main threat – terrorists. Anyone, who works to achieve this goal, makes a useful contribution. As of today, the Turkish Army is engaged in this. But we must not forget that we are talking about the sovereign territory of Syria. The fact that Turkey operates without permission of the Syrian authorities, is bad. In this regard, it is crucial that any operational progress should not lead to split of the country,” Klimov stressed.
Speaking of Syrian Kurds, who also become a target of attacks of the Turkish Army, the senator noted that they “seek an autonomy within Syria, and, possibly, also a separation from it in the future. And Russia supports the territorial integrity of the country.”
On October 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that goals of the military operation, which country’s troops are conducting in Syria, are the cities of al-Bab and Manbij. At the same time, the Turkish leader noted that Ankara has no plans on Aleppo.
Since August, Manbij, located 90 km to the north-east of Aleppo, is under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), consisting mainly of Kurdish units. Before, the city was occupied by terrorists of the Islamic State (IS) group, which was driven away by Kurds after several weeks of fighting. Al-Bab is still under control of terrorists. After recapturing of Manbij, the SDF were going to move to the city of al-Bab, a representative of the Democratic Alliance Syrian Kurdish party in Russia, Abd Salam Ali told Izvestiya in August.
If the SDF managed to implement its plans, they would form a ‘Kurdish belt’ along the Syrian-Turkish border. However, the plans of Kurds did not come true because a few days after taking Manbij, Turkey announced the beginning of the Euphrates Shield operation and sent its troops to the Syrian territory.
According to Abd Salam Ali, cleaning of the Syrian territory and, in particular, al-Bab city from terrorists is just a pretext; a real target of Turkey is Kurds. He also noted that fierce clashes between Kurds, the Turkish Army and militants, controlled by Ankara, are currently ongoing in the area of Afrin.
“We are not going just to give up. In this regard, we are confused by the position of Russia and the US, which do not react to the actions of Ankara,” Abd Salam Ali said.
Meanwhile, Damascus does not believe the Ankara’s assurances on Aleppo, and thinks that after capturing of al-Bab, Turkish troops will start to move themselves and pull the so-called ‘moderate’ opposition to the side of this city.
As a Syrian retired Brigadier General Ali Maqsood said, Ankara cannot and will not fight against the IS, which it was supporting for a long time.
“Stating its claims on al-Bab , Turkey has two goals. The first one – do not allow the SDF to continue its moving in the direction of Afrin and to form the ‘Kurdish belt’ on the Syrian-Turkish border in this way. The second goal is an access to Aleppo,” Maqsood told the newspaper.
He also noted that the distance between al-Bab and Aleppo is a little more than 30 km, and if Turks manage to realize their plans, the Syrian Army, which has surrounded terrorists in the eastern part of the city, will be struck from two directions: from Idlib, the southwest, where the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (previously known as the Al-Nusra Front) terrorist group operates, and from al-Bab, the northeast.