A fragile truce before the storm on the Turkish-Syrian border
For a second day, there was no large-scale military operation. Turkish and Kurdish forces exchanged some artillery fire. But a Turkish presidential spokesperson warns that a ground operation could occur “at any time". Even Christian militias are ready to resist a Turkish attack.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – The calm before the storm. The fragile truce on the border between Syria and Turkey seems to be holding for a second day after recent Turkish air strikes against the Kurds, sowing death and destruction, including among local Christian communities.
All the forces in place – Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Kurdish militias, on the one hand; Turkish military and anti-Assad armed groups, on the other – remain on their respective positions in the countryside north of Aleppo, as well as Kobani, Raqqah and Hasakah in the northwest, except for the occasional shelling and gunfire.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, SDF fired several rockets at checkpoints in Aniq Al-Hawa area of the Tel Tamr countryside, already the scene of previous exchanges.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Turks shelled some SDF-controlled areas. No casualties have been reported.
After intense attacks a few days ago, things appear to be calm, especially in Hasakah, Raqqah, and Aleppo.
However, a land operation in the north of Syria could start "at any time”, this according to Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin speaking to Al Jazeera.
Turkey’s goal is to push the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), back by more than 30 km from the border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that Operation Claw Sword would continue until the last terrorist was neutralised.
The operation, which began overnight on 19-20 November, has involved so far air strikes, drones and artillery, but also ground forces against Kurdish groups across the border.
It was sparked reportedly by a terror attack in Istanbul on 13 November that left six people dead and 80 wounded. The PKK and other Kurdish groups denied any involvement in the attack.
The Syrian Military Council (SMC), a local Christian military organisation, has joined the chorus of condemnations of Turkish operations in Syria and is reportedly preparing to meet the threat.
According to SMC spokesman Matay Hanna, the attacks in the north and east of the country are only an attempt to destroy the project of democratic coexistence of the different ethnic and religious groups in the region, in order to favour radical Islamic groups like al-Nusra and the Islamic State.
In spite of Turkey’s claims, Turkish military operations are not only affecting Kurds. For local Christians this is nothing new; in the past, they have seen their villages shelled, with casualties and damages.
“All the towns and villages in Shehba to Dêrik, all the peoples who live there, were attacked. The Turkish state is also targeting resources in the region. Service facilities, health centres, electric power plants, grain deposits, gas plants and residential areas were bombed,” Hanna explained.
“These attacks were intended to break the will of the people. Friends from our ranks and civilians fell as martyrs in the attacks."