Turkey’s operation in Syria’s Afrin: Essentially the most important gamers


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On Saturday, Turkey launched its operation in the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin geared toward rooting out the armed Kurdish groups, which Ankara considers a threat to its security.

Turkish floor troops followed a day after, crossing the border into Syria alongside thousands of Free Syrian Navy (FSA) opponents, as share of the so-known as Operation Olive Branch.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had acknowledged that the operation in Afrin would be followed by a push into the northern metropolis of Manbij, which the US-backed Kurdish forces captured from the Islamic Instruct of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, additionally is named ISIS) in 2016.

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Turkey-Syria border, acknowledged various regional gamers are « searching to slice up various ingredients of Syria, expanding their spheres of have an effect on ».

Right here are about a of the predominant gamers in the Afrin operation:


Turkey has been struggling with armed Kurdish opponents for a protracted time in the southeastern share of the nation. Amongst those groups Ankara is combating is the Kurdistan Employees Birthday party, or PKK, which had separatist roots, and later pushed for extra autonomy from the Turkish central authorities.

The violence has left 40,000 thousand civilians, infantrymen and armed opponents lifeless, costing the nation quite loads of of billions of bucks. Turkey considers the PKK a « terrorist organisation », and sees the armed Syrian Kurdish groups as an extension of the PKK.

Justifying the defense force operation, President Erdogan acknowledged the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish community « are your total identical », and altering their names « would no longer alternate the undeniable truth that they are dread organisations ».  

Turkey fears the establishment of a Kurdish corridor alongside its border. Going into Syrian territory, Turkey says it desires to set up a 30km « accurate zone » in Afrin to conclude the kind of Kurdish corridor from being established.


The Syrian authorities forces had been shedding territory to the opposition and varied armed groups, including ISIL, for the reason that starting up of the struggle in 2011. However the Russian intervention in 2015 grew to turn out to be the tide in President Bashar al-Assad’s favour. On the tip of 2016, the Syrian military took Aleppo, one in all the principle battlegrounds in the struggle.

The Syrian authorities forces fought towards the opposition opponents in Idlib province in eastern Syria whereas its forces persisted to battle ISIL in the west.


By 2018, the forces right to President Assad regained many of the Syrian territory, but the finest speak remaining out of its attain was once below the Syrian Kurdish abet a watch on in the north of the nation.

For days main to the Turkish operation in Afrin, Damascus warned that Syrian air defences stood able to protect towards an air attack. But for the reason that operation was once launched, Syrian defence has now no longer materialised.


Russia formally announced intervention in the Syrian struggle in September 2015 to make stronger President Assad. With the Russian air make stronger, the Syrian authorities has regained many of the territory misplaced to ISIL, moreover as various Syrian opposition forces.

Russia controls the airspace over Afrin entrusted to it by Damascus, but forward of the Turkish operation, it withdrew quite loads of of its infantrymen deployed near the metropolis.

Final November, Assad thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for « saving » the nation. A month later, Putin claimed defense force victory in the war-torn nation and announced that a « indispensable share » of the deployed force could perhaps return residence. Alternatively, Moscow saved its Khmeimim airbase in Syria’s Latakia and a naval facility in the Mediterranean metropolis of Tartus.

Russia complained earlier in January that the US was once searching to split Syria by setting up a Kurdish-managed entity in northern Syria.

United States

The US has an estimated 2,000 troops stationed interior Syria, in accordance to the Pentagon. That would no longer contain labeled mission and special forces personnel. Just now no longer too lengthy previously, US Secretary of Instruct Rex Tillerson acknowledged Washington, DC intends to abet an delivery-ended presence in Syria, now no longer finest to fight ISIL and al-Qaeda, but additionally to counter the have an effect on of Iran, one in all the strongest allies of the Syrian authorities.

For the reason that struggle began in 2011, the US has sought to pick out the management in Damascus by supporting various opposition and insurrection groups. That effort, then again, failed. Nonetheless it was once extra successful in main a coalition towards ISIL.

The US is allied with Turkey towards Syria’s Assad. Nonetheless it has additionally aligned itself with Turkey’s adversaries, the Kurds. Just now no longer too lengthy previously, it was once printed that the US was once working to manufacture a border security force in northern Syria consisting of 30,000 mostly Kurdish armed personnel. But Tillerson walked support on that belief, after igniting outrage in Ankara.

Some of the American troops are believed to be in Manbij, where the US-allied Syrian Kurdish armed opponents salvage a licensed presence. Turkey has vowed to trust Manbij after Afrin, increasing a likely flashpoint between Turkey and the US. 


The Other folks’s Protection Gadgets is extra popularly known by its Kurdish acronym YPG. It is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Birthday party (PYD), an opposition political event in Syria. The YPG and its various Syrian Kurdish mates abet a watch on a swathe of land in northern Syria, and was once credited for defending the Kurds from ISIL and al-Qaeda.

The YPG was once additionally instrumental in retaking of the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa.

In Afrin on my own, there are between 8,000 to 10,000 Kurdish opponents, in accordance to estimates. Kurdish opponents in Manbij additionally number in the thousands.

Turkey considers each the YPG and its political wing PYD « terrorist groups » with ties to the banned PKK. The YPG additionally has a all-female unit is named the YPJ.

Free Syrian Navy (FSA)

First established in 2011, the opposition Syrian armed community FSA, sought to voice down the authorities of Syrian President Assad. Its founders had been nonetheless of Syrian defense force officers who defected from the Syrian Armed Forces.

Since its establishment, it was once regarded as the finest hope for Syrians towards the authorities in Damascus. Nonetheless it was once additionally ridden with infighting, and masses of its opponents had been suspected of forsaking it in favour of various extra unsuitable armed groups.

When Turkey joined the Syrian struggle in 2016, an alliance of Turkish-backed opponents below the Free Syrian Navy name was once established.

In the most up-to-date operation in Afrin, Turkey mobilised thousands of FSA opponents interior Turkey moreover as in Syria to fight the Kurdish opponents.

Free Syrian Navy opponents head towards Afrin as share of the Turkish operation [AP]

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