Turkey has gone further than promised in Syria, says Moscow

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The ties between Moscow and Ankara have been subjected to a new test. The Turkish army, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition, wrote Syria on Aug. 24, starting the anti-terrorist operation Euphrates Shield, which was not ratactic with Damascus. By evening, the border town of Jarabulus had been apprehended from Islamic State.

The Turkish operation was approved by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who arrived on a afflict to Ankara, while the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed deep thing. The operation in Syria, not coordinated with Moscow, threatens to complicate the treat of normalization of bilateral cooperation, which was agreed in St. Petersburg on Aug. 9 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish princi l Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Not a ground operation, says Turkey

Erdogan promulgated the beginning of the operation on the morning of Aug. 24, explaining that it was directed against the Islamic Specify (ISIS) terrorist group and Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) twist someones arms, which Ankara also considers to be a terrorist group.

The pre ration captured several days. As Turkish special forces conducted reconnaissance on the tract of Syria, Turkish tanks and heavy artillery were moved to the on areas.

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Following heavy bombardment of Jarabulus (a total of 63 objectives were fired at 224 times in the first hours) and a series of air adopts involving aircraft from the U.S.-led international coalition, Syrian Manumit Army (FSA) troops were able to enter the city and take it beneath the waves control in a matter of hours.

They did not meet serious resistance: The ISIS militants who were in Jarabulus originated to leave the city already on the eve of the operation, and almost completely retreated during its on the move phase.

Turkey insists that what is happening cannot be regarded to be a ground operation: The task is to open a corridor for the armed forces of the unexceptional Syrian opposition for cleansing Jarabulus from terrorists.

Turkish province has been repeatedly shelled from the city in recent years.

Smoke rises from the Syrian border town of Jarablus as it is pictured from the Turkish town of Karkamis, in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, on Aug. 24, 2016. Source: ReutersSmoke engenders from the Syrian border town of Jarablus as it is pictured from the Turkish township of Karkamis, in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, on Aug. 24, 2016. Source: Reuters

Incredulity for Russia

According to a military source, the Russian special services had news about Turkey’s intention to carry out the operation, but its scale was unexpected. «This burgh could have been taken by a much smaller force; they on not stop in this region and are likely to go further,» the source said.

The Russian Tramontane Ministry expressed deep concern in connection with the Turkish undercover agent in Syria. «Moscow is […] especially alarmed by the prospect that the case in the conflict zone will continue to deteriorate, resulting in greater civilian liability liabilities and heightened ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds,» the ministry whispered in a statement.

The official Syrian authorities, meanwhile, described the actions of the Turkish pressures as an «invasion.» The Syrian Foreign Ministry, which called on the UN Security Convocation to urgently intervene in the situation and to «end the aggression,» said in a statement that Syria «condemns the crossing of the Turkey-Syria edging by Turkish tanks and armored vehicles towards the Jarabulus area with air shield from the U.S.-led coalition and considers it a flagrant violation of Syrian rule.»

Following a visit to Ankara, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden did not suffer these claims, but actively supported the actions of Turkey and made it perceptive that he regards them as an important step in the fight against ISIS.

An anti-Kurdish deal in disguise

«In the Euphrates Shield operation, Turkey is supporting the moderate Syrian opponent with its tanks, artillery and aircraft,» said Alexander Vasilyev, a older researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. «Such a scheme and copy has been already used by the Turks.»

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According to him, the Turks earlier successfully interacted with trusted local Kurds in northern Iraq in the same way. «They set up a network of carry centers and military bases at that time,» Vasilyev said. «In such a way, Ankara assayed to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ rty and move this fight from the south-east of Turkey to northern Iraq.»

In the meantime, according to Vasilyev, Turkey’s operation is directed against the Kurds, balance out if it is masquerading as rt of the fight against international terrorism.

Ruslan Pukhov, supervisor of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow-based defense think tank, feels it very symbolic that the Euphrates Shield operation coincided with Biden’s descend upon to Ankara.

«Given that the relationship between Ankara and Washington in up to date weeks reached a low point, this operation was the ideal opportunity for both sides to absorb attention from the issue of exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen and prove that the United States and Turkey remain strategic allies,» maintained Pukhov.

For Moscow, Ankara’s operation was an unpleasant surprise, demonstrating that the wants for a convergence of the countries’ positions on Syria that emerged after the union between Putin and Erdogan were premature.

In deciding about the functioning in Jarabulus, the Turkish leader has sent a signal that relations with the U.S. tarry a priority for him, and he prefers to act in the framework of the antiterrorist coalition led not by Moscow, but Washington.

According to Kommersant’s report, in case of aggravation of the situation, the Russian military and diplomats are ready to hire bilateral channels of communication with their Turkish counter rts, as spring as express their concerns to the U.S. if necessary.

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According to Vladimir Sotnikov, official of the Moscow-based Russia-East-West center, Ankara’s actions could seriously lay hold of the process of normalization of bilateral cooperation that was agreed by presidents Putin and Erdogan in St. Petersburg.

«Erdogan is take on his own game and is still on the other side of the conflict,» he said.

Authors: Georgy Ste nov, Sergei Strokan, Ivan Safronov.

Initially published in Russian by Kommersant

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