Conflict

Situation in Northern Syria Tense Ahead of Turkish Incursion

Syria

What will the situation look like on the ground in northern Syria in the case of a Turkish incursion on territories held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)?

The expectation of an imminent Turkish incursion into northern Syria has alarmed authorities in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AA) and among the SDF, its military wing.

Despite the agreement between the US and Turkey to set up a safe-zone in northern Syria, the recent announcement made by US President Donald Trump regarding US military withdrawal from the region and declarations made by Turkish officials that Turkey is preparing a military operation in northern Syria have dashed hopes of the establishment of a safe-zone according to the previous terms.

The SDF has put its units on high alert and military units have been sent towards Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad where military bases had been set up along the Syrian-Turkish border. Trenches are being dug along the border in anticipation of potential military conflict with the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

SDF figures have criticised the US withdrawal from the region and have claimed that the possibility of a military conflict with Turkey would destabilise the region to such an extent that it may provide a way for ISIS to initiate a resurgence. This is especially pertinent with regards to the situation in al-Hol IDP camp where thousands of ISIS-affiliated individuals have been settled following liberation operations in eastern Syria.

Syrian Opposition groups have welcomed the recent developments and have called for fighters among the ranks of the SDF to join the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA), the biggest coalition of Opposition groups, in order to avoid clashes with Turkey.

The recent developments have been largely met with condemnation from the UN and European states that are fearful of a further bout of displacement in Syria and the possibility of the prolongation of military conflict in Syria.

Despite the surprise behind comments made in relation to these developments, expectations of a US withdrawal and a Turkish military operation in northern Syria have been lingering for a number of months.