Jihadist positions in al-Bab, a town 20 km from the Turkish border targeted. An "unusual" collaboration between fronts opposed to one another. Russian spokesman: Several vehicles involved, "very effective operations." Iran against the "hostile" US presence at the peace talks in Astana.
Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - For the first time Moscow and Ankara have carried out joint air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State objectives (SI). The Russian Ministry of Defense yesterday announced that the fighters of the two countries - once on opposing fronts and now at the forefront of the peace talks in Astana, Jan. 23 - hit the suburbs of the town of al-Bab , in the province of Aleppo. Even the Turkish army speaks of operation "in coordination" with Russia.
Al-Bab, about 20 km away from the Turkish border, has been the epicenter of a fierce battle between Syrian rebels backed by Ankara, the militias of the Islamic State and Kurdish forces in the last five months. Earlier this week the United States also carried out air strikes in the area, in cooperation with Ankara.
Analysts and experts emphasize the "unusual" cooperation on the military level between Russia and Turkey, a NATO member state. Moscow has released some information related to military means involved in the operation, while there are not yet specific details on the military cooperation between the two countries.
Local sources speak of heavy Turkish army attacks against jihadist militias in al-Bab and the outskirts of the town. The Russian air raid could, in this view, favor the advance of Turkish ground troops.
In this context of new alliances and collaborations between once opposing fronts, what role the United States intends to play remains to be seen, after Donald Trump is officially sworn in as President tomorrow.
To date, doubts surround the American presence at the peace talks in Astana. The declared aim of the talks is the stabilization of the "fragile" ceasefire in force since midnight on 30 December, and to encourage political dialogue between the opposing sides. Iran hast stated it does not want US interference in the peace process. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said “We are hostile to their presence and we have not invited them".
Moscow and Ankara have opened up to - if not insisted –the new US administration attending meetings. "At this point, we have to maintain the Tripartite formation in place" stressed Bahram Ghasemi, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, according to which "any enlargement could increase the risk of failure."