After Turkey’s failed military offensive dubbed Operation Gare that was launched on 10 February and resulting in the deaths of 16 Turkish soldiers, 13 of them being the captives of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey launched a new air-and-land operation targeting PKK zones in the mountainous region of Zap, Metina and Avashin in Iraqi Kurdistan six months ago.
Turkey was planning to take control of Zap, Metina and Avashin and move to Qandil, known as the headquarters of the PKK, within a period of two-three months and while doing that Makhmour Refugee Camp was also planned to be brought under control via consecutive air-strikes.
But none of these planned scenarios have happened, according to a special report by the Mesopotamian News Agency (MA).
Since the beginning of these operations, despite employing fighter jets and drones bombing the fighters from the air, Turkey has not been able to achieve its goal and have been forced to continue the operations so as not to be seen to return home almost empty-handed.
Statements from the PKK’s side, Kurdish fighters reporting from the field, journalists and politicians following the operations have all also pointed to the serious claim that Turkey has also deployed “chemical weapons” and “toxic gases” out of a feeling of desperation and “despair”.
Turkey’s ongoing operation is also described as a “failure”, because of the contrast between the Turkish authorities’ mood when they first launched the operations and their mood now that has dramatically changed. The statements of the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has also been giving the impression that they are very far from where they were planning to be.
Such unexpected outcomes of this final operation in Iraqi Kurdistan have pushed Turkey to pursue new plans.
As part of these new plans, it has been reported that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) held a meeting in Baghdad with his Syrian counterpart Ali Mamlouk. This meeting, which was defined as “historic” by the Turkish media, was called a “possible start of a new period” by İsmail Hakkı Pekin, who served in top positions in the Turkish Armed Forces and was also the Head of the General Staff Intelligence Department.
Critics evaluate such diplomacy traffic as Fidan’s attempt to demand support from Damascus for a projected operation in North and East Syria. Local sources also support such claims that Turkey is in the process of such diplomatic discussions through continuing visits to Erbil (Hewlêr) and Baghdad.
Al-Malikiyah (Derik) region, in the northeastern province of Al-Hasakah, is said be the latest target of a looming offensive. Turkey essentially aims to completely cut the connection between NE Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan, with a new offensive in North and East Syria according to MA special report.
Increasing levels of military attacks in Tell Tamer are evaluated both as a “rehearsal” of a new wider military operation and as Turkey’s attempt to “test the waters”.
Turkey has reportedly intensified military shipments on the border line of Al-Darbasiyah (Dirbesiyê) and Amuda (Amûdê).
Local sources informed MA that a large number of armoured vehicles and tanks are positioned at these points and the villages in the region where the military units are dispatched have been evacuated. Along the skies of the borderline, the continues presence of manned aerial vehicles and drones are also read as a sign of a looming military operation.
In a meeting allegedly held on 19 August in Turkey’s border city Antep (Dîlok), Turkish authorities are told to share their perspectives with a tribe, which cooperates with Turkey and is centered in Jarablus, that them and tribes cooperating with them should be starting their preperations to hit the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) from the back through a series of attacks and sabotage actions from Manbij (Minbic) to Raqqa (Reqa).
In early September, five military units, which had been formed as part of the Syrian National Army (SNA), united under the name “Syrian Liberation Front”, state-run media Anadolu Agency reported.
“Of course, SNA is waiting for the right time to re-launch the military operations against the organisations and groups affiliated with the PKK… This alliance aims to clean the PKK and its wings from the regions in Syria. […] SNA continues its military preparations for a war right now.”
These are the words of Mutasım Abbas, introduced as the spokesperson of the Syrian Liberation Front, according to newspaper Şarkut Avsat.
SNA itself was formed in mid-2019, just before Turkey turned its attacks towards Ras al-Ayn (Serêkaniyê) and Tell Abyad (Girêspi).
The sudden emergence of this new military unit that has been the product of years of organisation by Turkish military intelligence under which around 20,000 SNA fighters are employed, is also grounds for suggesting that the “preparations” for a new offensive are advanced and that a new offensive could be very well be imminent.