Like I have posted over the last week or so, combat between Erdogan’s Turkish forces and militia, advancing towards the Kurdish enclave Afrin, and Assad Junior’s advancing military forces heading into the area, now appears imminent. The Syrian situation has been lurching towards total chaos for some time now. The implications of any direct combat between Syrian national forces, and Turkey’s forces are profound. It will bring in all the other players, like Iran and Hezzbollah, Russia, the USA and the coalition, as well as the Syrian Kurds. Now when that happens, all hell is going to break loose. For one thing, Turkey is a member of NATO, and may try to invoke Clause 5. Clause 5 requires military force to be used by all other NATO members to defend Turkey from Syrian forces. Russia and Iran will then engage the entire NATO alliance, or at least those members who respond to Turkey’s request for military assistance. Granted, NATO will be between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Still, Turkey will have unleashed a fundamental crisis for NATO. If NATO intervenes, it will lead to a wider Syrian war, but if they do not, it will collapse the NATO alliance once and for all.
First, we have the confirmation from official Syrian sources that the Syrian military will deploy into Afrin and defend it from Turkey and its proxies. It is a Reuters story from yesterday. The link is here.
Syrian Kurdish official: deal for Syrian army to enter Afrin
FEBRUARY 18, 2018 / 1:03 PM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO Reuters Staff
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian Kurdish forces and the Damascus government have reached an agreement for the Syrian army to enter the Afrin region to help repel a Turkish offensive, a senior Kurdish official told Reuters on Sunday.
Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish-led administration in north Syria, said army troops will deploy along some border positions and could enter the region within the next two days.
The agreement underscores the increasingly complex situation in northern Syria where Kurdish groups, the Syrian government, rebel groups, Turkey, the United States and Russia are tangled in a complex web of enmities and alliances.
The complex relationship between the Damascus government and the Syrian Kurds, which each holds more territory than any other side in the war, will be an important element in determining the future course of the conflict.
Turkey launched an air and ground offensive last month on Syria’s Afrin region, opening a new front in the multi-sided Syrian war to target Kurdish fighters in the autonomous canton in the north.
The Kurdish YPG militia, which has received arms from the United States, has seized swathes of northern Syria from Islamic State during the conflict, and has a rival vision for the country’s future to that of the Damascus government.
But while the United States has a military presence in the much larger area of Syria the YPG and its allies control further east, it has not given any support to the YPG in Afrin.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has had a complex relationship with the YPG during the conflict. They have mostly avoided direct conflict and both sides have at times suggested a long-term agreement between them might be possible, but they have also sometimes clashed and espouse utterly different visions for Syria’s future. Assad has said he wants to take back control of the whole country.
Jia Kurd said the agreement that had been reached with Damascus was purely military and that no wider political arrangements had been made yet.
“When it comes to the political and administrative matters in the region, it will be agreed upon with Damascus in the later stages through direct negotiations and discussions,” he said.
He added that there was opposition to the deal that could prevent it being implemented: “We don’t know to what extent these understandings will last because there are sides that are not satisfied and want to make (the understandings) fail.”
Reporting By Ellen Francis; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Adrian Croft
Next, we have official confirmation from Syrian TV this combat deployment will happen within “hours.” The link is here.
For links see article source…..
Posted for fair use…..
World 3 hours ago
Syrian TV: Pro-government forces to enter Kurdish enclave
BEIRUT – Syrian state TV says pro-government forces will begin entering the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin in the country’s northwest “within hours.”
The TV gave no further details about the deployment of the troops, known as “popular forces,” which comes amid reports that an agreement has been reached between the Syrian government and the main Syrian Kurdish militia in control of the area.
The agreement may prompt Turkey to pull out its forces and end a month-long air and ground offensive that aims to oust the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, from the border enclave.
The deployment would bring Syrian troops closer to the border with Turkey.
As if this isn’t bad enough, we have Turkey’s response to this Syrian military deployment.
Turkey says will confront Syrian forces if they enter Afrin to help YPG
Turkey,s foreign minister warned on Monday that turkey.s military would confront any Syrian forces entering Afrin province . to protect Kurdish fighters.more at the link:https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,…121366,00.html
Here is a more detailed Turkish statement about fighting Syrian forces.
Turkey warns as Syrian government poised to enter Afrin
By Zeina Karam and Bassem Mroue, Associated Press
BEIRUT — February 19, 2018, 12:19 PM ET
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, give a press conference in Amman, Jordan, Monday, February 19, 2018. Cavusoglu said his country is ready to battle Syrian government troops if they enter an enclave in northern Syria to protect Syrian Kurdish fighters. Syrian state media said pro-Syrian government forces will begin entering the Afrin enclave “within hours,” after reaching an agreement with the Kurdish militia in control of the region.
Turkey warned the Syrian government Monday against entering the Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Syria where a major Turkish military offensive is underway, saying it would hit back at the troops if their goal is to protect the Kurdish fighters.
The warning sets up a potential clash between Turkish troops and Syrian government forces backed by Russia and Iran, whose deployment would be a first step toward restoring President Bashar Assad’s presence along the border with Turkey.
The warning by the Turkish foreign minister came shortly after Syrian state media said pro-government forces would enter Afrin “within hours” to “bolster” local forces in confronting Turkey’s “aggression” after reaching an agreement with the Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which controls Afrin.
Details of the deal were not announced by either side, and Kurdish officials said talks were still underway. By nightfall, no troops had entered Afrin.
Assad’s troops have had no presence in Afrin since they pulled out of most of northern Syria in 2012, as nation-wide protests against Assad transformed into a civil war. A return to the area, where a potent mix of regional and international powers have boots on the ground, could further complicate the situation and lead to unwanted confrontations.
But depending on the details of the agreement, it may also serve to defuse the situation in Afrin, where Turkey has been struggling to achieve results in its now monthlong offensive to push back YPG fighters from its borders.
Ankara considers the YPG a “terrorist group” linked to the Kurdish insurgency within Turkey’s borders. On Jan. 20, it launched a major air and ground offensive, pounding the enclave with airstrikes and artillery on a daily basis.
Turkey’s foreign minister, speaking at a news conference in Amman, Jordan, said Turkey would have no problem if Syrian government forces were entering Afrin to clear the area from YPG fighters, but that it would strike back if it turns out the deployment was meant to shore up the Kurds against Turkey.
“If the regime is entering to protect the YPG, then no one can stop us, stop Turkey or the Turkish soldiers,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Turkey has supported rebels fighting to overthrow Assad throughout the seven-year civil war, but in recent years has focused more on trying to contain the Kurds. Government troops deployed along its borders, at this point, may be more palatable for Ankara than the continued presence of the powerful YPG.
The group has received weapons and training from the U.S. for years and has been Washington’s main partner in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria.
It was not clear who, exactly, would enter Afrin. Syria’s state-run news agency, SANA, said pro-government fighters known as “popular forces” would deploy to the area.
“The popular forces joining the resistance against Turkish occupation in Afrin comes in the framework of supporting residents as well as defending Syria and its sovereignty,” SANA said. It added that the deployment aims to “frustrate attempts by Erdogan’s regime and its mercenaries of terrorist organizations to occupy the area,” referring to Turkish-backed Syrian insurgents.
A Syrian Kurdish official told The Associated Press that the Syrian forces will enter Afrin from the Shiite villages of Nubul and Zahraa in Aleppo province.
“The army will deploy in several border areas in coordination with the People’s Protection Units and the Syrian Democratic Forces,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal details of the agreement.
“The army will set up military positions in the border area and the agreement is that the Syrian army and the YPG will defend Syria together,” the official said.
The Syrian Democratic Forces are a U.S.-allied group led by the YPG that has won a series of major victories against the Islamic State group in Syria.
The Syrian government and Kurdish fighters have clashed on occasion, and Assad technically opposes the Kurds’ demands for autonomy. But they have also indirectly worked together in the past, and Turkey represents a common enemy.
Turkish officials said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during which the two discussed Turkey’s military offensive in Afrin. The Turkish officials detailed the call on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, and did not mention an agreement for government troops to enter Afrin.
Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition fighters meanwhile continued to pound villages in the enclave with artillery, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syria’s state media.
The Observatory said Monday’s shelling by Turkish troops killed three people, including a child, and that others were wounded.
Turkey’s private Haberturk newspaper said the Syrian government forces were expected to deploy to four locations in the next two days and 52 locations within the week. The paper claimed that under the deal, the YPG had agreed to hand over heavy weapons it holds. The paper did not provide a source for the report.
The Kurdish official told the AP that the reports about the YPG handing over their weapons are “totally untrue.”
Elsewhere in Syria, government shelling of the rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus killed at least 30 people, according to opposition activists and paramedics.
The besieged region known as eastern Ghouta has been subjected to weekslong bombardment that has killed and wounded hundreds of people. Opposition activists say government forces have brought in reinforcements in preparation for a wide offensive on the last main rebel stronghold near the capital.
The Observatory said Monday’s airstrikes and shelling killed 44 people. The Syrian Civil Defense, volunteer first responders known as the White Helmets, said 30 people were killed in eastern Ghouta.
Syrian state TV reported that rebels, in return, fired dozens of mortar rounds and rockets at Damascus, wounding eight people.
Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, Karin Laub in Amman, Jordan, and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report
Doomer Doug, a.k.a. Doug McIntosh now has a blog at www.doomerdoug.wordpress.com
My end of the world e book “Day of the Dogs” will soon be available for sale at smashwords. The url is
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/267340 It is also at the following url