Turkey and Russia, as well as Russian-backed Syrian regime forces, appear to have increased attacks in Syria in recent days.
Turkey is hammering Kurdish positions near Ain Issa with the first airstrikes in months, and Russia, or the Syrian regime it supports, is hammering Syrians in Turkish-occupied areas of northern Syria, according to reports.
It appears the goal is mostly to punish Syrians, but not much else, since Turkey, Russia and Iran all work together in Syria. Ankara has targeted the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Turkey often seeks to bombard Kurds when its ruling AK Party wants more votes at home. Turkey’s lira is in a free fall, and major Kurdish gatherings for the Newroz festival may have angered Ankara, with the result that it decided to attack random civilians in Syria.Usually, Turkey claims to be fighting “terrorists,” but there is no evidence of any “terrorism” against Turkey from Syria.
Ankara backs Syrian forces in Syria called the Syrian National Army, which is composed of former Syrian rebels who signed up to fight for Turkey. It has sought to use them to fight the US-backed Kurdish forces rather than the Russian-backed Syrian regime.
The airstrikes on Ain Issa were reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Russia was warning about “false flag” attacks by the extremist group HTS (Tahrir al-Sham, an active Sunni Islamist militant group involved in the Syrian Civil War) in Idlib, Iran’s Press TV reported. When Russia claims there will be false-flag attacks, it usually becomes a reason for it to launch airstrikes.
Russian jets hit a “rebel training camp,” among other sites, and trucks had been hit near the Bab al-Hawa crossing, according to reports. In early March, oil traders were targeted in Syria, also allegedly by either Russia or the regime. They were targeted in Turkish-occupied parts of Syria.
Turkey invaded Syria in 2016 and then continued with more invasions in 2017, 2018 and 2019, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of Kurds from Afrin. While Russia, Turkey and Iran work together on Syria policy in some forums, on the ground they back rival groups. They all, however, agree on wanting the US to leave Syria.
Turkey generally doesn’t mind if Russia or the Syrian regime kills Syrians in Idlib, just as long as Ankara has free rein to then attack Kurds near Tell Rifaat or Ain Issa.
It is a kind of trade-off: Russia and Turkey can both bomb as much as they want in their respective areas, just so long as it is not Turkish-backed SNA or Russian-backed regime forces who are killed. So civilians or Syrian fighters under HTS control can be killed, and Kurds can be killed.
Syria is a testing ground for weapons by Turkey and Russia as well.