Turkish Troops in Syria Allied with Terrorists
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Throughout nearly nine years of US aggression in Syria, Turkey’s Erdogan supported and continues to support anti-government jihadists while pretending otherwise.
Arming and now fighting along side these elements in Idlib province, Turkish soldiers are being killed and wounded by Syrian and/or Russian airstrikes on jihadist positions — the toll likely to rise significantly as long as they remain in harm’s way.
Operating cross-border illegally against Syrian sovereign independence, they’re losing the battle Russian and government forces are winning.
It’s slow-going but steady — despite momentary setbacks in some areas likely to be reversed.
This week, dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed or wounded near al-Bara and Baluon, Syria.
Erdogan’s only sensible option is one he hasn’t taken so far. Whether he’ll accept reality on the ground and do the right thing remains to be seen, namely:
Cease his cross-border aggression, observe the September 2018 Russian/Turkish Idlib deescalation zone agreement he breached, mend fences with Vladimir Putin he betrayed by his actions, and restore relations with his most valued ally.
Russia is the key nation he can rely on to keep its word, clearly not the US or NATO countries.
With Syrian and Russian warplanes controlling airspace over Idlib and surrounding areas, Erdogan is likely bluffing about ordering a major ground offensive that could prove disastrous for his forces if undertaken without air cover.
Russia supports Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Kremlin is committed to aid Syria’s military eliminate jihadists from areas they control.
Days earlier, Sergey Lavrov said Russia’s position is that agreeing to another truce in Syria’s terrorist-infested Idlib province means surrendering to and emboldening their extremism.
The only viable option is combatting them until all parts of the country they control are liberated.
In a US election year, especially at a time of growing economic weakness, greatly exacerbated by the spreading COVID-19 outbreak affecting dozens of countries, Trump is highly unlikely to want escalated war in Syria — notably because it would risk confrontation with Russia.
Without US/NATO support and with Russian and Syrian warplanes controlling airspace over areas where Turkish forces are illegally operating, Erdogan’s Idlib aggression is more likely to fail than succeed.
He plans a four-power March 5 Istanbul summit on Syria with his Russian, German and French counterparts.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he has no plans to attend.
If Russia’s leader believes Erdogan intends to halt fighting, cease supporting jihadists, and respect Syrian sovereign control over its own territory, he’ll likely be eager to be part of discussions in Istanbul next week.
If not, what’s the point of going. Despite major differences on Syria at this time, Russian/Turkish communications on the conflict continue.
Neither country wants military confrontation with the other.
During a Thursday Security Council session on Syria, Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia said the following:
“(T)he only lasting solution for Idlib and, frankly speaking, for Syria as a whole, is a final and irreversible expulsion from that country of all terrorists” — supported by the US, NATO, Turkey, Israel and the Saudis, he failed to stress, adding:
A UN statement on the situation in Idlib, ignored by Western media, said al-Nusra and likeminded terrorists are involved in “killings, abductions, detainments, torture, public executions of civilians, journalists, social activists and health workers, bans on public assemblies and not allowing civilians to enter safe zones.”
The only option is combatting and eliminating them, stressed by Lavrov, Nebenzia and other Russian officials.
Years of US/NATO/Turkish/Israeli aggression in Syria made the situation complicated.
Syrian and allied forces are combatting terrorists the above countries support.
Nebenzia: “(A) number of natural resources have been cut off. Production chains have been broken, and illegal unilateral sanctions undermine the effectiveness of the (Syrian) government.”
“Active terrorist cells are operating in the country, and they do not shun to use the humanitarian factor in their dirty information and armed campaigns.”
“This also applies to (false) reports about the bombings of schools and hospitals.”
“There’s no UN presence in Idlib. And to confirm these bombings it’s enough to make basically two phone calls.”
“We’ve often exposed fakes based on such reliable information.”
“Today (the Trump regime) talked about the bombings against camps for internally displaced persons.”
“As stated in (the UN) report, there has been only one reported bombing of IDP camp in Dana — and that was not a bombing but an artillery shelling” by jihadists.
On Thursday, Erdogan regime spokesman Omer Celik said “Turkey now recognizes Syrian forces as hostile targets.”
On the same day, a Russian Defense Ministry statement said “Turkish military forces (that) were in the terrorist units’ battle formations came under Syrian troops’ fire near the inhabited community of Behun,” adding:
US-Turkish supported al-Nusra jihadists operating under various names “attempt(ed) to conduct a large-scale offensive operation on the positions of Syrian government troops.”
“Aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces were not used near the inhabited community of Behun” in combatting them, Turkish casualties reported.
On Thursday, a meeting between Russian and Turkish military officials failed to reach agreement.
Moscow reportedly ruled out permitting Turkish drones and/or other aircraft to operate in airspace controlled by Syrian and Russian warplanes.
Nor was progress made on a new northern Syria demilitarized zone or Ankara’s demand that government forces withdraw from liberated areas in Idlib.
In Syria’s ongoing liberating struggle, follow what Erdogan does, not what he says he’ll do.
During or following the March 5 Istanbul summit, especially if Putin attends, perhaps Erdogan will agree on steps toward conflict resolution in Idlib his Russian counterpart proposed to prevent conflict in the province from spinning out of control.
It’s his only sensible option, Putin perhaps adding a sweetener to make the medicine go down.
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My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”