Russian Military Pulls Out Of Syrian Kurdish Town As Turkey Initiates "Massive Cross-Border Attack"

Turkey's defense minister has confirmed the Turkish military has begun cross-border shelling of the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin in what he further describes as the "de facto start" of the operation in order to destroy - in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's words - Kurdish "terror nests" - and which has been dubbed previously by Turkey as a 'massive cross-border attack.'

Defense Minister Nuettin Canikli said Friday that Ankara "has no option" regarding the planned invasion of Northern Syria to dislodge the YPG (Kurdish "People's Protection Units") and other factions, which it considers an extension of the "terrorist" PKK. Kurdish YPG militias and their media arms began reporting sporadic shelling and clashes earlier this week. 

Crucially, the Turkish state-run news agency Anadoul confirmed that Russian military personnel have started pulling out of Afrin ahead of Turkey's "expected" and imminent cross-border military operation. Russia has administered 'deconfliction' zones in the Afrin area while controlling airspace overhead, and has sponsored trilateral talks with Turkey and Iran which seeks cooperation among the three powers to wind down the war in Syria. The Russian military has long had "military advisors" on the ground in Afrin, which have in the past helped coordinate the fight against ISIS. 

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Image via AFP

As we explained previously, the question of whether or not the large-scale Turkish assault on the Syrian Kurds moves forward or not depends in large part on Russia. On Thursday Turkey signaled that it had Russia cooperation in its planned invasion, though this was not confirmed by Moscow. As Reuters reported, "Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also told broadcaster CNN Turk that Turkey will coordinate with Russia and Iran on an air operation in Afrin." The Turkish build-up of forces could constitute the largest external intervening force thus far in the entirety of the Syrian war, including special forces troops, Army units, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Turkey's air force.

However, according to many observers, the key element to a successful Turkish operation will be airpower as previously Turkish-backed forces making up "Euphrates Shield Operation" have had little success in the past dislodging Kurdish fighters without air support. On Thursday Syria said it will shoot down any Turkish jets carrying out attacks inside Syria. 

But with all Russian military elements currently departing Afrin it appears that Turkey may have a green light. Indeed according to Bloomberg Turkey’s top general, Hulusi Akar, and intelligence agency chief Hakan Fidan flew to Moscow on Thursday seeking Moscow's approval for the use of Syria's airspace.

The United States has urged Turkey to exercise restraint, with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday responding when asked about the Turkish invasion threat in the following: “We certainly don’t know that that would be the case. We would call on - certainly on the Turks to not take any actions of that sort."

Meanwhile, Al Masdar News reports the following major development: "The Syrian government rejected the Kurdish PYD's [Kurdish "Democratic Union Party"] proposal to restore state institutions in Afrin. Damascus demands their security forces be allowed in Afrin." So it appears the Syrian government is now intensifying the pressure for direct access to Afrin, even as Russian personnel pull out and a Turkish invasion threat looms.

In response to the news of imminent military escalation, the Turkish lira has sold off by 1%, with the USDTRY jumping back over 3.80 as nervous traders try to anticipate what the US response will be to a Turkish action that directly strikes at what the US considers its own geopolitical assets in the region.

 

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Comments

Brazen Heist eforce Fri, 01/19/2018 - 12:33 Permalink

Kick the US out of Syria and the chances of peace rise dramatically.

Kick the US out of Korea and the chances of peace rise dramatically.

Get the picture?

Turkey would not be poking around in Syria if the CIA/Mossad/Wahhabi asswipes didn't initiate the aggression. Now they are arming Kurds, no wonder why Turkey is pissed. The Kurds are useful idiots fighting for the empire of chaos.

I hope this cracks NATO. NATO are cornered rats in Syria. Their presence is all along border zones - a big giveway to their duplicitous presence.

In reply to by eforce

jimsoong25 Moe-Monay Sat, 01/20/2018 - 14:34 Permalink

I didn't see anyone point this out, so I will.  Why is Turkey using old outdated (death trap) tanks in these ops?  This isn't the first operation where I've noticed it.  Turkey possesses Leopard II tanks which are much more modern.  Note this M-60 doesn't even have side armor.  Turkey has improved M-60s with Israeli kits on them.  They're not even using those.  The M-60 pictured was designed for 1960s ops.  It cannot stand up even to RPGs. 

In reply to by Moe-Monay

Blankone johnnycanuck Fri, 01/19/2018 - 10:20 Permalink

From the source of the article you linked: " pro-government Damascus Now reported". Perhaps they are biased.

Over the last three days or so the Putin fan club kept posting about how Russia was going to destroy Turkish forces if they dared to enter the area. There were comments, once again, about how the S400 was going to knock all the aircraft out of the air. Instead Russia is moving out of the area and moving their forces back to their bases on the west coast.

In reply to by johnnycanuck

johnnycanuck Blankone Fri, 01/19/2018 - 10:39 Permalink

Perhaps they are biased. Note I wrote " fog of the propaganda war ". 

There is more going on here than meets the eye and did you notice US spox recently said they have nothing to do with the Kurds in Afrin area?   Apparently that was intended to soothe Erdogan's angst, but I'm sure it was unsettling for the Kurds both in the west and east of Syria.

Something closer to home that might interest you on helter skelter US Syria policy.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/01/congress-democrats-r…

In reply to by Blankone

JohninMK Blankone Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:25 Permalink

As of an hour ago, according to a Russian reporter on the ground, the Russian forces moved to a couple of villages a few miles away because they were in an area due to be shelled by the Turks. However that didn't happen due to bad weather so they have returned. They are expected to move out again tonight or at first light as the Turkish attack is expected at 07.00 local time in the morning.

The only comment I have seen re the TuAF being shot down is from the Syrian Government. All the posters I read are well aware that the Russian S-400 and S-300 systems are there to protect Russians, not Syria.

In reply to by Blankone

BobEore johnnycanuck Fri, 01/19/2018 - 10:34 Permalink

In repeat of a dozen other debacles where...

certain elements of the [redacted]

have take the "reports" of regime mouthpiece "Anadolu" without the necessary truckload of sodium...

in order to let the 'death to amerika' and talmudic/islamophile jihadi-joe crackers crack open the bubbly early, today we get to watch as ....

  • blustery jihadist regimes proclaim the end of Kurdish Rojava again...
  • whilst threatening America for 'getting in the way,
  • when the Americans are no where near the Afrin canton
  • which is under the exclusive oversight of the Russian command post
  • which sits directly in the line of fire which the Turks would need to use if shelling from the south
  • and we wait to see if the SAA will allow approaching SDF reinforcements from Cizre and Kobane to pass through territory they hold.

now back to our incessantly [redacted]

In reply to by johnnycanuck

BobEore johnnycanuck Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:21 Permalink

He has blustered about Manjib, on the western side of the Euphrates still, where the local defense council is repelling a Turkish attack. That was a predictable response to the news of the border force being organized.

His 'rants' are mostly encouraged by a rapidly deteriorating domestic situation which requires a 'look - squirrel' sort of promotion of something to take the heat off. And altho merikan ceptionalists have a great degree of comprehending that their country IS NOT ALWAYS AT THE CENTER of every news story everywhere...

this show has little to do with amerika... and much to do with being helplessly under the control of Moscow and it's talmudic 'partner' in tel aviv

And now... back to our relentless... "the CIA did it" storyline!

In reply to by johnnycanuck

Cutter johnnycanuck Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:32 Permalink

Its in Russia's interest to allow Turkey to take care of the Kurds in not just Afrin, but the US controlled zone east of the Euphrates.  This move has been well coordinated between Ankara and Moscow.  

Don't know what to make of Assad's Foreign Minister threatening to shoot down Turkish jets, but its likely Moscow will put Assad in his place.

Erdogan and Putin have been getting along quite well, and have much larger interests at stake, very unlikely they will put those interests at risk over the Kurds.

In reply to by johnnycanuck

Winston Churchill Cutter Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:52 Permalink

Exactly, they're working in concert to crush the Kurds.

Pax Americana's strategy of a Kurdistan straddling Turkey,Iran and Syria thereby throttling

OBOR is infantile.Non of the local players, let alone Russia or China will ever allow it.

Wheels within wheels.Syria almost has to object, at least publicaly, but PR is all it is.

Assad has little say in the bigger Great Game being played and he is expendable if he tries.

In reply to by Cutter

OverTheHedge Winston Churchill Fri, 01/19/2018 - 13:12 Permalink

Moon of Alabama is fairly scathing about Turkeys chances of making any serious progress - and also suggests that they are not serious about making progress.

http://www.moonofalabama.org

All I can say is that this is more complicated than I can reliably follow: I have no idea who wants what any more, and whatever someone says they want, is almost certainly not what they actually want. Given that there are more sides to this mess than combatants, I am going to sit back and wait, and see what washes out. As long as Turkey is beligerant in an easterly direction, all is good. When they fail at that, and turn westwards, that's when I will start to get windy.

In reply to by Winston Churchill

ISEEIT Fri, 01/19/2018 - 09:07 Permalink

Much sound and fury....

This won't end well for Turkey if pushed beyond what is essentially flexing muscle for domestic consumption.

11b40 ISEEIT Fri, 01/19/2018 - 10:19 Permalink

Please tell us who is going to do anything about it?  If so, what might that be?

When discussing the ME, it is always helpful to keep a map handy.  Urdogan controls the gateway to Europe, and the passageway to the Black Sea.  Like him or not, he holds one of the most critical positions in the world, and has the ability to send the whole ME spinning out of control.

In reply to by ISEEIT

WTFUD Fri, 01/19/2018 - 09:21 Permalink

Would Turkey please accidentally bomb those coordinates they leaked to Russia/World and where the Scum Al-ciaD'uh bases are burrowed.

fel.temp.reparatio Fri, 01/19/2018 - 09:29 Permalink

the kurds first sought an independent socialist state in the mid 70s when ocalan formed the pkk - a now listed terrorist organisation... their achilles heal has always been the formation of an independent state - they'd 'serve' whoever promised to help them achieve it

their puppet masters, israel and america, have made promises, given arms and finances yet they've failed to deliver the prize time and time again... seems like turkey has had enough and is about to slap that dream right out of the kurds' collective consciousness (also serves as a big 'fuck you' to their masters)