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Syria Daily: Kurds Celebrate Link with Regime, But Worry About Turkey

Syria Daily: Kurds Celebrate Link with Regime, But Worry About Turkey
March 04
07:45 2017

Northern Aleppo Province: Opposition territory (green); regime territory (red); Kurdish territory (yellow); Islamic State territory (black)


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UPDATE 1830 GMT: The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been fighting Turkish-rebel forces west of Manbij, on the frontline in Aleppo Province.

A pro-opposition activist says the SDF had retaken all territory lost this week and seized the village of Jubb al-Amir (see map) on Saturday. However, he later updated that the Turkish-rebel forces regained the village, with fighting now on the outskirts of nearby Tel Turin.

Graphic video, including bodies of slain fighters:


ORIGINAL ENTRY: The autonomous Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria is celebrating its first land link with the Assad regime, while worrying about the Turkish presence alongside rebels.

Commenting on this week’s connection as pro-Assad forces advanced against the Islamic State in the four-sided war in Aleppo Province, Abdul Karim Saroukhan, head of the Kurdish-led administration, said the link was an economic breakthrough.

With the route, northeast of Aleppo city — reoccupied by pro-Assad forces in December — and south and east of al-Bab, the regime can move manufactured goods to a Kurdish area with agriculture and 70% of Syria’s oil.

“The opening of a corridor between us and Aleppo will have a great positive impact,” said Saroukhan. “It is like an artery that will feed part of the Syrian body.”

But Saroukhan also worried about the concurrent Turkish-rebel advance in Aleppo Province, capturing the city of al-Bab and putting them on a frontline with both the pro-Assad forces and with the Kurdish-led, US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Turkish-rebel offensive has already clashed with pro-Assad units, notably in the town of Tadaf to the south of al-Bab, and has reportedly shelled SDF-held territory to the east of al-Bab and west of the city of Manbij.

A showdown over Manbij appears imminent, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promises the capture of the city. Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that the SDF had handed villages west of Manbij to the Assad regime, after the Manbij Military Council, a local SDF component, said it reached a deal with the Syrian regime to create a buffer zone against the Turkish-rebel forces.

However, a Pentagon spokesman said the US military is not aware of any agreement.

Amid the tension, Russian warplanes have already accidentally hit the SDF, only 5 to 6 km (3 to 4 miles) from American special forces.

Saroukhan declared, “If Turkey continues in this way, in this vein, it will be the start of a new war in Syria, in the north.”

And he promised that the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish militia YPG, “will not allow the entry of any other forces to this city”.

Reports are circulating of both US and Russian assistance to the SDF near Manbij. The Pentagon effectively accepted the Russian deployment, with Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis saying:

We have noticed and observed and are aware of the fact that these humanitarian convoys sponsored by the regime and Russia have been moving into Manbij, and that they have some armoured equipment with them.

Another defence official said the material appeared to be for “force protection.”

Images of American armored vehicles and US personnel:

US ARMOR MANBIJ

US PERSONNEL MANBIJ


US Deletes Tweet of Its Support to Pro-Assad Capture of Palmyra

The US military has deleted a tweet indicating its aerial support of pro-Assad forces and Russian warplanes as they recaptured Palmyra in central Syria from the Islamic State.

In the eight days before Palmyra was reoccupied this week, US jets carried out 23 attacks over eight days on ISIS positions.

See Syria Daily, March 3: With Russia & US Help, Regime Takes Palmyra from ISIS


Regime MiG-21 Jet Crashes in Idlib Province

A regime MiG-21 jet fighter has crashed in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

Although some pro-rebel activists claimed that the warplane was shot down, the likely cause of the crash was technical failure.

The jet crashed in Hatay Province in southeastern Turkey. The provincial governor said that the wreckage has been reached, but no body was found.


Reports: Russian General Critically Injured

Russian Major General Petr Milyukhin has been critically injured by an Islamic State land mine in central Syria, according to Russian outlets.

Milyukhin, the head of the Directorate of Combat Training of the Western Military District’s Staff, was struck last week during the offensive by pro-Assad forces to recapture the historic city of Palmyra from ISIS. He lost both legs and an eye and was transported by a special flight to a Moscow hospital, where he is in intensive care.

He is the first general injured since Russia’s military intervention in September 2015.


Video: How Can Opposition Areas Maintain Internet Links?

Activists explain to Qasioun News how the Internet can be maintained in opposition areas, despite attacks and sieges by the Assad regime and its allies.

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About Author

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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20 Comments

  1. caligola
    caligola March 04, 08:24

    This handover of territory between SDF and regime exists only on twitter as of today. On the ground, as of today, clashes are ongoing between ES vs SDF. The US on its part said it was totally unaware of any agreement. Beeing its sof on the ground i think they might know. Will belive this when i see the SAA in Manjib.

    Reply to this comment
  2. caligola
    caligola March 04, 15:45

    Doesnt seem Turkey is done at all. This is quite a buildup….
    https://mobile.twitter.com/QalaatAlMudiq/status/838029078938718210

    Reply to this comment
    • Mikey3d
      Mikey3d March 04, 17:01

      The Turks can take Manjib at will. They are trying to get the YPG elements of the SDF to withdraw to the eastern bank of the Euphrates without a major escalation. I’m not sure what the Trump Administration’s policy is regarding Turkey. Turkey has not been a very good ally of the USA for over 25 years, and Erdogan has been institutionalizing Islamic ideologies on many Interior ministries (judicial, education, legislative, etc.). Should the USA pivot away from Erdogan’s Turkey and set an independent policy, or try and cooperate with Erdogan, who is known to be quite unpredictable? The next few months will reveal the thinking is in Washington.

      Reply to this comment
      • K9
        K9 March 04, 18:05

        Mikey: The Turks are in NATO because they control the Dardanelles, regardless how irritating Erdogan is to the US by being in NATO Turkey offers the US the ability to bottle all Russian naval ships in the black sea, everything else (e.g. whether there is democracy in Turkey or not) is all secondary to this main point. Frankly if there had been a Turkish Sisi in charge of Turkey right now do you think the US and much of the western press complain at all? Nope. What really irritates them is Turkey’s growing (depending upon your perspective) independent/unpredictable foreign policy. But can you blame the Turks for putting their national interests (ie prevent their territorial partition of Turkey by preventing a hostile Kurdish state emerge nears it’s borders) ahead of the US?

        Reply to this comment
        • Don Cox
          Don Cox March 05, 12:05

          Yes, I do blame the Turks. They have the same problem with the Kurds as the English had with the Irish.
          .
          It took a very long time for the English to accept that the Irish had a right to an independent state. The English were wrong in Ireland, and the Turks are wrong in Kurdish Anatolia.

          Reply to this comment
  3. Bs As
    Bs As March 04, 16:21

    Figures of jihad unite under a new banner in the Sahel region:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQiGtyq8USU

    Reply to this comment
  4. Bs As
    Bs As March 04, 16:46

    US forces oficially arrived north of Manbij to protect their neo-marxists “anti-imperialist” assests:

    OIR Spokesman‏ @OIRSpox 42 min

    @CJTFOIR has taken this deliberate action to reassure Coaltion mbrs & partner forces, deter aggression and keep focus on defeating #ISIS

    https://twitter.com/OIRSpox/status/838042005267697664

    Reply to this comment
  5. Bs As
    Bs As March 04, 16:52

    Best friends:

    Pentagon says US operations in Syria unaffected as Russia moves convoys to Manbij

    “The Russian military has informed the United States about moving convoys to Syria’s Manbij, and US operations in the area remain unaffected, US Department of Defense spokesperson Jeff Davis said in a briefing on Friday.”

    https://www.sott.net/article/344303-Pentagon-says-US-operations-in-Syria-unaffected-as-Russia-moves-convoys-to-Manbij

    Reply to this comment
  6. K9
    K9 March 04, 18:24

    An interesting pair of articles: This one is about the President of Lebanon calling Hezbollah’s armed forces ‘a complementary force to the main Lebanese army’ proof positive that the Syrian revolution won’t end with the capture of Damascus and Qardaha but rather with the invasion of the Bekkaa valley (and Najaf?) by rebels.
    .
    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/03/lebanon-president-defend-hezbollah-weapons.html
    .
    This next article (see below link) is another fascinating piece on the First Chechen war – apparently the Chechens ambushed a Russian tank that was shelling their position from the other side of a river by floating across that river inside a tube to launch a surprise ambush.
    .
    https://warisboring.com/that-time-chechen-rebels-floated-into-combat-on-inner-tubes-ee053c708cf7#.twzkdd7b7
    .
    An incredible but true account as this excerpt from the above article shows “One Chechen veteran named Musa — his identity kept secret due to concerns of reprisal — recalled his experiences during the Battle of Grozny in January 1995. The Russian army had advanced slowly toward the presidential palace and the Sunzha River, which cuts the city in northern and southern halves. The Chechen rebels were still in control of the palace, part of a bridgehead on the northern side of the river, but had pulled most of their forces back to the southern side…So Musa and seven of his fighters, half of his force, crossed the river at night on inner tubes — inflated car tires, actually — while loaded down with their weapons … in January.”
    .
    Imagine if rebels did that across the Orontes/Euphrates river against a regime position? It’d be legendary. :)

    Reply to this comment
  7. K9
    K9 March 04, 19:33

    #National: “Women from Damascus and Deraa reportedly extorted extra from regime checkpoints traveling north to Idlib or Turkey” – JohnArterbury
    .
    Those who Assadists who man check-points are scum and deserve to be on the receiving end of every rebel mortar/artillery/rocket/drone shell landing on them.
    .
    #Observation: 1) An interesting suggestion (see below link) by
    .
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C6EFxIYWYAAmIRS.jpg
    .
    BUT this plan does have a number of flaws, for it to work: A) The areas (all the way to Suqaylabiyah) west of Taiyyabat al-Imam would have to be capture by rebels first or rebels would have to risk a crippling regime counter-offensive into their rear. B) Raids across the Orontes river (ie past Mardhes) would have to be regularly launch upon regime positions in order to distract the regime attention away from a rebel offensive near western Hama (presumably towards Masyuf?) city. C) Salma needs to be a target of a rebel offensive not a raid. D) The eastern offensive (ie the one around the Salamiya area) would have to be the main wing of the rebel push towards the Al-Waer area of Homs and it’d have to (in order to maintain a blitzkrieg-type pace? This would require rebels having to bring a convoy of fuel and ammo trucks to maintain momentum? As well as being spearheaded by a multiple battalion-size groups across a broad front?) be tank/artillery-heavy. But like I said these 4 objections aside the plan is a very good one.
    .
    2) “So the USA officially shield terrorist #PKK from NATO ally Turkey. Turkey should propose to Putin to leave NATO if Putin drops Assad & PKK.” – Interbrigades
    .
    Risky move without the Turks developing their own nukes first as insurance. In uncertain times you only get peace through strength never words.

    Reply to this comment
    • K9
      K9 March 04, 19:42

      ‘ In uncertain times you only get peace through strength never words.’ – Anybody doubting the truth of this statement should the history of the 1920s/1930s, in particular the invasion of Poland/Finland by Soviet Russia, the Poles/Finns received lots of nice words from western countries (just like Syrian rebels) but never any meaningful action. What saved the Poles/Finns in the end was a united will that not only created an effective single army that not only knew how to fight (e.g. Motti tactics) the Russians but also mobilised their entire people (ie a war economy – again something the Syrian rebels haven’t still done) to assist materially (ie factories produced clothes/arms/ammo for their army) in the war effort. Russians were forced out at gun-point not with nice words. Same with the Turks during the 1930s when Stalin/Hitler started breathing down Turkey’s neck, Turkey survived by adopting the position of armed neutrality.

      Reply to this comment
    • Barbar
      Barbar March 04, 20:28

      Risky move without the Turks developing their own nukes first as insurance.” — Tayyip may have been angling for some Pakistani nuclear cover during his recent trip there, though it is highly doubtful they would sign up to cover his over-exposed arse contrary to the wishes of Russia and China, not to mention Yankistan.
      .
      That leaves his only hope for ever getting nukes dependent on his ability to convincingly suck up to the Vladster until his 4 Russian NPP’s at Akkuyu come online, slated for 2022. The corresponding ‘waste’-reprocessing plant then needed to salvage the delicious plutonium for superior lightweight warheads will only be negotiable if he’s prepared to offer something substantial in exchange … such as 100,000 JI-Joes trussed up like Christmas turkeys by end of 2017, for instance.

      Reply to this comment
  8. K9
    K9 March 04, 19:59

    #Observation: “If Syrian opposition weren’t run by ex-shawarma chefs turned diplomats, they couldve distracted Russia on other fronts apart from Syria. Build strong network with Russian opposition, Ukraine, Baltics, etc. Lobby EU and co. through this to gain support. ” – dimashqee
    .
    Exactly, approaching the Ukrainians/Poles/Israelis (for Hezbollah) would have been biggest open goal rebels could have achieved. For instance offering to train large numbers of anti-Russian Ukrainian militia men in how to use ATGMs (rebels are pretty accomplished in this) in exchange for say some MANPADs would be a perfect deal. If not that then perhaps an exchange of military ideas as well as request to Ukraine/Poland to support rebel cause in UN and EU parliament as well as to be their advocates in the European press.

    Reply to this comment
  9. K9
    K9 March 04, 20:04

    #International: This is an interesting development “Turkey to start training of tribal Arab ‘Tajamou’ Ibna’a Al-Hasakah’groups&some #Raqqa tribes alliance in #Syria” – metesohtaoglu
    .
    I wonder whether the Turks will align and coordinate the action of these groups with the Peshmergas of Iraq? That’d check-mate/pincer the PKK in Sinjar.

    Reply to this comment
  10. K9
    K9 March 04, 20:08

    Apparently the Turkish in Al-Rai is starting to launch rockets but to which direction it’s not been confirmed.

    Reply to this comment
  11. K9
    K9 March 04, 20:11

    An interesting article by the Turkish writer Metin Gurcan about the fundamental nature of irregular and conventional warfare:
    .
    https://sustainablesecurity.org/2016/10/19/when-the-strong-weaponize-the-weak-states-and-guerrilla-warfare/

    Reply to this comment
  12. Barbar
    Barbar March 04, 20:34

    1. Frogs report Russia mediating rapprochement between Jordan and Syria:
    https://translate.yandex.com/translate?url=http%3A%2F%2Fbmpd.livejournal.com%2F2467010.html&lang=ru-en&ui=en&dir=
    .
    The first concrete manifestations of the new agreement in relations between the two countries was the fact that GID [Jordanian Intelligence] gave Damascus and Moscow maps showing the locations of eight groups of militants operating in southern Syria near the border with Jordan. The identified militant camps belong to the Islamic state, the Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham.
    .
    .
    2. Rooskies also working assiduously in the North to reconcile SDF with SAA, producing a solid alliance to pen the Turk Stooge Army and ultimately kick the Yankis into touch.
    .
    .
    3. Interesting discussion on possible direction of Der Trumpenführer‘s foreign policy, if he can survive the intrigues of the ancien régime [i.e. NeoCon Deep State]:
    https://www.rt.com/shows/crosstalk/379046-trump-middle-east-us/

    Reply to this comment
  13. Barbar
    Barbar March 04, 20:36

    1. Rare honesty from a Yanki journo, once kidnapped by JI-Joes, who explains how Obomber régime destroyed the peace in Syria:
    https://twitter.com/Souria4Syrians/status/837330241186062336
    .
    2. Confirmed in this film by FSA commanders that Yankistan was perfectly aware it is militarily supplying Al Nusra, via the cutout Idris:
    https://youtu.be/Ci0be87Nkco

    Reply to this comment
  14. Barbar
    Barbar March 04, 23:33

    1. To celebrate end of Geneva Affentheater, HTS reverts to robbing AAS goodies in Idlib:
    https://twitter.com/omran_muhammad/status/838069781655875589
    .
    Jolani has an admirable Communist flair for redistribution of material goods [e.g. TOW-missiles] to those in greatest need!
    .
    .
    2. Yanki spokesman confirms its troops in Manbij to ‘deter hostile acts’, ‘keep focus on ISIS’:
    https://twitter.com/vvanwilgenburg/status/838045087233937410
    .
    Translation: “Tayyip, wind in your fragile neck before it gets snapped!
    .
    .
    3. Tayyip’s Masterplan has gone tits-up — Aaron Stein discusses his lack of options:
    http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/listen-aaron-stein-on-the-sdf-syrian-regime-agreement
    .
    Now all he has to do is lose the referendum to bring his cup of failure to overflowing!
    .
    .
    4. And [probably as an indirect expression of Teheran’s displeasure at KDP attacks on Yezidi in Sinjar] Tayyip’s Kurdish mafiosi pet Barzani hit a snag today as his oil-thieving operation in Kirkuk, whereby it was being pumped to Turkey, got shut down by rival PUK Peshmerga:
    http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/020320172
    .
    Ouchies … both are being hit in the pocketbook!

    Reply to this comment

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