The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have announced that they have agreed for Russia to deploy its troops in parts of northern Syria.
In the midst of military instability in the northern regions of Syria, the SDF has agreed to the deployment of Russian forces in the towns of Ain Issa, Tal Tamr and Amuda. These areas, which surround the so-called “safe-zone” formed with the support of Turkey, have seen skirmishes mainly between units of the SDF and the Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces, mainly elements of the Syrian National Army (SNA).
Since the launch of the Turkish-backed military operation in northern Syria, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring”, the SDF has looked for allies to repel the operation. In the initial stages, it agreed to the deployment of units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in some of the aforementioned areas. The presence of SAA forces in SDF-held areas had long been a discussion point in negotiations between the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AA), to which the SDF is affiliated, and the Syrian regime in Damascus, represented militarily by the SAA. The Turkish-backed offensive precipitated the process of bringing the SAA to northern areas of the country.
The deployment of Russian troops in predominantly SDF-held areas has come after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, indicating that this development was foreseen and pre-planned by the Russian authorities, who are keen on building up their presence as well the Syrian’s regime’s in AA-governed areas. The Turkish-backed offensive has provided the context for the facilitation of this process.
The alliance between the SDF and both the Syrian regime and Russia will likely be short-term in nature so as to counter-balance the Turkish-backed offensive in the north. The trajectory of their relationship is still unclear as no concrete political agreements have been reached thus far between the AA and Damascus. The AA has not been included in the talks in Geneva revolving around the Syrian Constitutional Committee (SCC), which themselves are experiencing significant difficulties.