Russia, Syria, and Turkey have agreed on joint operations in Syria


If Russia wanted to, it could deploy three armored divisions to Syria within 72 hours and thereby permanently solve the problem of Islamist rebels. The US could do the same in its pursuit of removing Bashar al-Assad from power. Therefore, the two powers’ involvement in Syria and the fighting has been done mostly by proxies, while each of the two great powers tries to cheat the other. This balance was disturbed by the Turkish military intervention in Northern Syria. The intervention could have ruined the rules established between the US and Russia. However, things were clarified and there was an unexpected chance to rapidly conclude hostilities in Syria.

After August 24th, 2016, the date that the Turkish army launched the operation around the town Jarablus, several rounds of talks, the latest of which was in Baghdad, were held between Russian, Syrian, and Turkish officers on limiting and controlling Turkey’s actions. After the failed coup, Turkey is no longer the aggressive Turkey that downed the Russian Su-24 jet at the end of 2015. Therefore, Turkish sources say that a consensus on more points was achieved in the end in terms of limiting the Turkish “Euphrates Shield” operation to Northern Syria in accordance with Syrian interests. Russian army staff officers were accepted as “referees” to help control the planners of the Turkish Euphrates Shield operation.

The first point imposed on Turkey was a threshold in terms of forces deployed by the Turkish army in Syria, which is not to exceed 8,000 soldiers (two mechanized brigades, an artillery regiment, a battalion of special forces, a squadron of F-16, and a mixed one formed from helicopters, amphibious assault and transport vehicles).

The second agreed point was the area in Syria where the Turkish military may move to eliminate Islamic State fighters. This is a strip between the cities of Quarah Koubri and Jarablus (90 km) with a depth of 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border. At the same time, Turkey has committed to not allow rebel FSA (Free Syrian Army) militants to act in this strip independently, without orders from Turkish army units.

Although the Syrian army intervened in defense of Kurdish YPG fighters surrounded by Islamist rebels in the Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo on August 21st, 2016,  the YPG attacked the Syrian army in the city of al-Hasakah, conquering it. Therefore, also included in the second set of points is that the Turkish army has permission from the Syrian government to evacuate from the eastern bank of the Euphrates (even in battle) Kurdish rebels (YPG) who conquered the city of Manbij from the Islamic State with the help of US special forces. Russian S-400 missile systems will not bring down Turkish aircraft flying beyond the 90x30 km strip if they are acting against PKK terrorists.

The third point agreed upon means the withdrawal of most rebel groups controlled by the Turkish intelligence services in the battle zones around the city of Aleppo and in the Latakia governate. This maneuver will help the Syrian army achieve final victory in the battle for Aleppo.

Turkey pledges that when the offensive of Iranian volunteers and Syrian army to encircle and liquidate the Islamic State starts, then the Turks will execute a maneuver of forces and means together with the Syrian army. No matter what actions the Kurds will take against the Islamic State, Turkey will create a safety cordon along the Syrian-Turkish border to prevent the dispersal of Islamic State fighters to other countries.