Calm ensues in northern Syria as Turkey wages military operation
The Syrian Democratic Forces deny there being any initiatives from Russia or the United States to bring calm to the Syrian north.
Cautious calm prevails in the areas under the US-backed so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) a month into Turkey's Operation Claw-Sword targeting Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in both Iraq and Syria and the threats of a land offensive on the cities and bordering towns that are under the control of the Kurdish forces.
"The Asayish forces that withdrew from the contact lines with the Turkish military and that had been continuously shelled during the past few days have begun returning to their headquarters after SDF assured them that the Turkish forces have made a U-turn on launching the ground operation," people familiar with the matter told Al Mayadeen.
"SDF informed its leadership that there were no discussions regarding any international party making peace initiatives like those Turkish media is reporting on, especially those regarding the relocation of SDF's forces," the sources added. "The discussions with Russia did not touch on that matter either, and the news being published by Turkish media is false. The situation is still the same as it has been since the Turkish invasion that kicked off in 2019."
Through these operations, Turkey aims to exert pressure on both the United States and Russia to extract their approval to carry out a new military operation against the SDF-controlled areas after the Kurdish party was accused by Ankara of being behind the bomb attack in Istiklal Street in Taksim Square in Istanbul.
Ankara is also trying to take advantage of the attack in Istanbul to carry out a ground operation against the SDF and to gnaw at more areas under its control, amid initial indications of Turkish intentions to attack villages and towns in rural Manbij and Tal Rifaat.
"The joint operations between SDF and the global coalition, which had previously stopped due to the developments on the borders, are now back in full throttle," SDF said in its announcement, according to the sources. The operations "will increase in size during the coming days."
Meanwhile, SDF clarified that there were no changes on the ground for the Syrian Arab Army with regard to the mobilization or the number of border guards in eastern or northern Syria.
"The personnel that entered the area was to fill in a gap created by the direct Turkish bombardment of the Damascus government forces, which killed more than 35 Syrian soldiers," the sources added.
It is likely that SDF issued this statement to try and uplift the spirits of its leadership and members, as well as indirectly signal that it received assurances from the United States that the latter would prevent Turkey from attacking the towns and cities in northern Syria.
"The Syrian Arab Army deployed Division 25 throughout the week in several areas in the SDF-controlled Aleppo countryside to pave the way for a new agreement on the area," others familiar with the matter told Al Mayadeen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged on Thursday to work with Syria and Russia in the fight against terrorism.
"Currently, we want to take a step with Syria and Russia, as a trio. For this, first, our intelligence organizations should come together, then our defense ministers and, then our foreign ministers should meet," Erdogan said.
Erdogan divulged that during a telephone conversation with Putin he offered to hold a meeting of leaders of Turkey, Russia, and Syria.
The Turkish President emphasized that the PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization, is active in Syria, particularly in its northern regions, and warned that if nations like the US continue to send "thousands of truck-loads" of weapons, ammunition, tools, and equipment to terrorists in Syria, then Ankara will take matters into its own hands.
On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusogly said Ankara was ready to cooperate with Damascus on counterterrorism and the repatriation of Syrian refugees if Syria acts "realistically".
"We are holding talks with the Syrian regime through intelligence channels," Cavusoglu said while speaking before parliament during a discussion on the Foreign Ministry's budget.
Turkish presidency spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin revealed earlier that there are periodic direct contacts between the Turkish intelligence agencies and their Syrian counterparts for the sake of national interests.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted in November at the possibility of reconsidering relations with Damascus after the 2023 elections in Turkey.
Regarding a possible meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad under Russian mediation, the Turkish President said this matter can be evaluated when the time is right, pointing out that there was no eternal resentment or quarreling in politics.
Meanwhile, Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) member and former MP Orhan Miroğlu announced earlier in the month that Damascus rejected Ankara's request to arrange a meeting between Presidents Erdogan and Al-Assad.