The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Bekir Bozdag, in a tough-worded statement, has warned Syrian regime of highly disastrous consequences if it steps in Afrin to back the Kurdish forces. Turkey considers the YPG group operating in Afrin as terrorists and had launched a big offensive to uproot them from the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly told his Russian counterpart that Syria will face devastating consequences if it has struck any deal with the Kurds.
Kremlin has reported that both Russian and Iranian heads will meet in Turkey with President Erdogan to discuss the worsening situation. Kurds however, have denied the reports of any deal with Syrian regime yet but have stated that they have called on the regime to support them against the Turkish army.
Turkey had started its operation Olive Tree against the Syrian Kurds in Afrin in January with an aim to oust YPG (People’s Protection Units) as it sees the latter as a part of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) an internationally banned group responsible for fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades. YPG has, however, rejected any such links with PKK. They have been in control of semi-autonomous enclaves to the south of Turkish border with Syria since the Syrian forces pulled out in 2012. The conflict although may have not given any concrete results to Turkey but has led to the displacement of thousands of civilians since the beginning of Turkish offensive.
The Syrian regime has no military presence in Afrin since last 6 years. Over the years, the Syrian government has avoided direct conflict with YPG but it disapproves of the YPG’s demand for autonomy of the region. The Syrian government has vowed to take control of the territory eventually but the two sides are reportedly together in blocking the Turkish advance on Syrian soils.
Syrian war zone has multiple players and alliances which only lead to more complication of the situation. US support to YPG in its fight against ISIL in defiance of the wishes of its longtime NATO ally Turkey only ties another knot in the highly entangled thread.