Russian forces bolster military presence in NE Syria


Russia on Monday carried out a military shipment to an airport in Syria’s YPG-occupied Qamishli district in the northeastern Hassakeh province, east of the Euphrates.

On Monday morning, the two Russian military cargo aircraft of the Ilyushin Il-76 type landed at the airport in the Qamishli district, most of which is occupied by the PKK’s Syrian branch, the YPG terrorist group, in Hassakeh, local sources told Anadolu Agency (AA).

About 300 Russian soldiers were on board the planes taking off from Latakia’s Khmeimim military airport, as well as military vehicles.

On June 3, the Russian army brought a short and medium-range air defense system Pantsir-S1 to the Qamishli district.

On June 8, the two tanks, a radar system, an anti-aircraft gun of the Dochka type and eight personnel carrier armored vehicles were delivered to the base in Tal Tamir, located on the southeastern front line of Operation Peace Spring.

The number of soldiers of the Russian army in Ain Issa, Tal Tamir, Manbij, Ain al-Arab and Qamishli also increased.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last month that Turkey would launch new military operations in Syria to extend the 30-kilometer (20-mile) deep “safe zones” along the border, aiming at the Tal Rifaat and Manbij regions and other areas further east.

“We are taking another step in establishing a 30-kilometer security zone along our southern border. We will clean up Tal Rifaat and Manbij,” he had said, adding that the planned military operations will gradually continue in other parts of northern Syria.

Erdoğan has said that since the United States and Russia have failed to live up to their commitments to provide a safe zone along the border region, Turkey is ready to mount an operation to protect the nation and locals in northern Syria from the PKK/YPG terrorist threat.

In October 2019, Russia committed to removing the terrorist group from Tal Rifaat and Manbij after reaching an agreement with Turkey during Operation Peace Spring. Moscow also promised that the terrorists would be pulled back 30 kilometers from the border on the M4 highway and in the area outside the Operation Peace Spring zone. Likewise, the then-U.S. Vice President Mike Pence pledged to Turkey that the YPG/PKK terrorist group would withdraw from the Operation Peace Spring region. But neither Moscow nor Washington kept their promises.

The YPG/PKK mostly carries out terrorist attacks in Manbij, Ain al-Arab and the Tal Rifaat district of Aleppo, even using these regions as bases for its attacks. The YPG, which occupies roughly a third of Syria’s territory with the support of the United States, frequently targets Azaz, Marea, al-Bab, Jarablus, Afrin, Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain in the north of the country with heavy weapons.

Turkish-backed operations in previous years have ousted the YPG/PKK from the northwestern enclave of Afrin and a series of border towns further east. Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful counterterrorism operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).

The YPG has controlled much of northeastern Syria since the forces of Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad withdrew in 2012. Assad’s forces have recovered most of Syria but some areas remain outside his control. Turkish forces are deployed in much of the north and northwest, the last opposition stronghold, and U.S. forces are stationed in the YPG-controlled east and northeast.

The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the U.S., Turkey and the European Union, and Washington’s support for its Syrian affiliate has been a major strain on bilateral relations with Ankara. The U.S. primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria to fight the Daesh terrorist group. On the other hand, Turkey strongly opposed the YPG’s presence in northern Syria. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.’ support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and terrorizes local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.

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