By South Front,
A Turkish operation in northeastern Syria may be brewing, if recent developments are an indication. On May 28th, the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) announced that it had eliminated the mastermind behind ISIS assassinations in the region, in a joint operation with the “Free Syrian Police.”
The SNA said that a joint force had raided a hideout in the town of al-Bab where the ISIS assassination commander was taking shelter. There were heavy clashes.
In a typical Turkish-esque reporting manner, the pro-Ankara forces achieved victory, despite the odds. Two days later, ISIS’ response came, when al-Bab was subjected to two attacks. On May 30th, in the morning, an improvised explosive device blew up the SUV of Tala ‘Abu, the General Judge of al-Bab, who survived the attack.
Later on the same day, unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed two personnel of the Free Syrian Police, a law reinforcement body backed by Turkey, in al-Bab. Eyewitnesses who were at the scene of the second attack said that the gunmen shouted “the Islamic State is remaining”.
ISIS remains as a strong presence in Turkish-occupied areas in northern and northeastern Syria. Some of the Turkish-backed militants present there are former fighters and commanders of the terrorist group. Furthermore, Turkey’s forces and the factions it backs fight against the Kurdish groups in northeastern Syria.
On May 30th, Turkish forces shelled the town of Maraanaz which is located in northern Aleppo and is jointly held by Kurdish forces and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
The Turkish shelling appears to be a response to a recent infiltration attempt by the Afrin Liberation Forces (ALF) on Maraanaz front. On May 28th, a group of ALF fighters attempted to infiltrate the defenses of Turkish forces to the north of the town. The attempt failed because the fighters came across a minefield and two of them died.
In Greater Idlib and northeastern Syria, Ankara fights against ISIS, also against every Kurdish faction. It’s only “allies” appear to be the factions it backs, and mostly the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front (Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham). On May 30th, Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker has opened up in a new video explaining the Turkish government involvement in illicit trade with Syria and the transfer of weapons to the al-Nusra Front.
Peker was considered an ultra-nationalist and an ally to the ruling AK Party of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He began revealing information about the corruption of senior Turkish officials and their involvement in illicit activities after a fallout with the authorities.
As a result of these revelations, Turkey’s leadership is feeling a sense of urgency. There were allegations of high-level phone tapping and more, alongside the illicit weapon and drug trade. As such, the focus needs to be shifted quickly outside of Turkey and what better way than to organize a sort of crisis in the north of Syria?