AFRIN UPDATE: Turkish Planes Bomb City Center, TAF Continues to Shell Civilians

As Turkey shuts down Afrin’s water and begins the seige of the predominately Kurdish city, civilian wounded and dead have been piling up. With Afrin’s Kurdish resistance now decimated one must ask, what the reason is for Turkey to continue to essentially wipe out Kurdish civilians.  Of course a deeper question arises and that is where is the rest of the world and why is it not doing anything about this?

Take a look at the following tweets and videos as Turkey continues to commit ethnic cleansing with a near intent on genocide. Of course Turkey is no stranger to genocide, they wiped out their Armenian minority population of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1917.

The TAF under Erdogan continues to pound innocent civilians.  The question is: Does anyone care?

Erdogan is the Real Terrorist in Syria, Not the Kurds

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a brutal assault on the Kurdish majority Syrian region of Afrin on Saturday.  Dubbed “Operation Olive Branch,” the Turkish government insists it is cleaning out the area of Kurdish “Terrorists.”

Afrin is controlled by the Kurdish dominated SDF and trained and armed by the US government to defeat ISIS and offer an alternative leadership to the Assad regime.  Erdogan has a nasty habit of claiming and suspecting every Kurd of being a terrorist.

The truth is, Erdogan and his own family funded and aided ISIS for the past few years in order to sow chaos in Syria and Iraq.  The project worked until more and more countries figured out that Turkey itself was behind the rise of the Sunni Jihadists.  Why would Erdogan fund ISIS?  Turkey has always wanted to regain its former stature and what better way to do that than createenough chaos that it would be forced to go in and stablize it. Now that Erdogan and the Turkish government has been forced out of that strategy by Russia, Iran, and even the US, it has decided to use the chaos to go after a new terrorist entity…the Kurds.

For Erdogan everyone else is the terrorist.  However, in the first 24 hours of his attacking Afrin, over 20 civilians have been killed with most being chilldren, including 8 members of the same family.  Keep in mind, Erdogan has ordered the Turkish army into Afrin, the SDF has not entered into Turkey. So who is the real terrorist?

WORLD WAR 3: Turkish Ground Forces Cross Into Syria, Now in Direct Combat with Kurds

It has begun.  With one single directive to the Turkish forces, the Turkish ground  forces stationed near Afrin have crossed into Syria and pushed the self destruct button on NATO as we know it.  Reports out of Afrin are clear, Turkish armored divisions and troops have moved into Afrin and are now engaged in direct clashes with heavily armed American backed Syrian Kurds.

If the above tweet is accurate, the Turkish forces are already experiencing serious casulties. The SDF, whch the YPG is a majority force in, is well trained and armed with the best weapons.  This won’t be a replay of the Iranian backed occupation of Kirkuk, which seemed to catch the US off guard.

Courtesy of Syria War Map

According to Rudaw, the SDF has repelled the initial Turkish attack.  While it’s true some border villages have been captured by the Turkish army, the heavy and successful resistance is not helpful for Erdogan’s projection of success.

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Meanwhile,France has called for an urgent Security Council meeting over Turkey’s invasion.

“Ghouta, Idlib, Afrin – France asks for an urgent meeting of the Security Council,” Le Drian said on his Twitter feed. He added that he had spoken with his Turkish counterpart on Jan. 21 morning.

“France is very preoccupied by the situation in Syria and by the brutal degradation of the situation,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

“This is why we have called for a Security Council meeting to evaluate all the humanitarian risks, which are very serious,” he said speaking in Algiers on the sidelines of a meeting for western Mediterranean countries.

Despite Turkey’s claim that it notified Syria of the operation, the Syrian regime came out against Ankara’s actions.

“The Syrian Arab Republic decisively condemns Turkish aggression against the town of Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syria,” a statement released by the Syrian regime said, as quoted by the SANA news agency.

NATO also chimed in and asked Turkey to act “rationally.”

So far the US has stayed quiet, but expect that to change is Erdogan keeps trying to push forward.  With Russia staying out of the fray for now, all sides in Syria are on edge for the next big development.  Given the fact that Erdogan cannot afford to retreat until he has accomplished his mission for fear of looking weak in the face of the 20 million Kurds in Turkey, this has the very real potential of shattering post World War 2 alliances as well as pulling the US and Russia directly into the quagmire.

Chaos Continues With Turkey Threatening to Invade Syrian Kurdistan

Turkey’s President Erdogan responded to the announcement of the US intention to train a 30,000 strong Syrian Democratic Forces to man the Syrian borders with Turkey and Iraq with increased threats of destroying the Kurdish dominated SDF.

“A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdogan said of the United States in a speech in Ankara. “What can that terror army target but Turkey?”

“Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”

Turkey views the YPG unit which make up the majority of the SDF as an extension of the PKK which Turkey and most countries have labeled a terrorist organization.  However, the US views the SDF as essential to destroying ISIS and stablizing Syria.

Erdogan has utilized the Kurds equal terrorist card numerous times to justify attacking them in Syria and elsewhere.  Yet, the truth is the opposite. It was Erdogan and his family who helped to create and protect ISIS through financial assistance, safe passageways, and emergency medical treatment.

Turkey views the rise of an autonomous Kurdish region in Northern Syria similar to the one in Iraq as an existantial threat.  After all Turkey has occupied the heavily Kurdish areas of South and Southeastern Turkey for centuries.  There are 20 million Kurds in Turkey.

All of this has driven Erdogan to prove that he is indeed serious. Reports from Nusaybinden, Turkey, which borders Afrin have claimed armored vehicles and soldiers now entering the Kurdish controlled area.  Afrin is an isolated enclave and lies to the West of the main SDF areas.  Yet, this first push if successful could very well lead Turkey to try for the main center of the SDF further to the East.

Turkish tanks rolling through Nusaybinden on the way to enter Syria. (


With the SDF becoming a main pillar of Washington’s proxy coalition against Iranian expansion in the region, it is hard to see the Trump administration continuing to turn a blind eye to Erdogan’s behavior.

Will Turkey’s Showdown in Afrin Split NATO?

Turkey has always had a complex relationship with the rest of its NATO partners, ut during the current Erdogan period it has grown exceedingly problematic.  With the weakening of US positions across he Middle East and Trump’s reliance on reliable indigenous allies to shoulder the ground burden against ISIS and Iran, Turkey sees its position falter.

The US has spent the past two years strengthening the Kurdish YPG dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Northern Syria by offering training, weapons, and logistics. The YPG/SDF are spread across five cantons that buttress Syria’s border with Turkey.

Turkey has always dealt poorly with the 20 million Kurds within their country, but has grown excessively weary about the Kurdish self-determination movements growing in Syria and Iraq.  Both of these movements are being funded more or less by the US, France, and Germany; all of whom double as fellow NATO members to Turkey.

Erdogan has grown despondent about the US role in building a future Kurdistan.

“We are greatly disappointed by the United States not keeping its promises. Many issues that we could have resolved easily…were pushed to a dead-end,” Erdogan said this past week.

Erdogan’s opposition to the US backing of the YPG in Syria is now seen as a threat to the NATO alliance itself. This makes Turkey’s assault on Kurdish positions in Afrin ground zero to see how Trump views Turkey’s future roll in NATO.  Afterall, the prevailing wisdom is that Turkey was behind much of the early growth of ISIS and used the chaos to push back on growing Kurdish autonomy.  With the narrative flipped, Turkey sees Afrin as an important litmus test on how far America will actually go to defend their proxy in Northern Syria.

“We need to cleanse Afrin of the structure there called the YPG terrorist organization,” Erdogan said.

Comparing the YPG to the notorious PKK, a long time enemy dof Turkey, might play well inside Turkey, but it does nothing to heal the divide between Turkey and the West.

Syrian Kurds and Turkey Exchange Fire Over Afrin

Turkish and Kurdish forces exchanged fire across the Afrin-Idlib border on Monday, according to several reports. No casualties have been reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed there was an exchange of fire between the sides. The organization stated that the YPG targeted Dar Ta izzah town and Turkey retaliated by launching fire into YPG-controlled Afrin canton.

The Observatory has also been reporting a steady increase of Turkish armored vehicles and soldiers entering the Afrin and Idlib areas as a preparation for a final assault on the Kurdish positions in Afrin. If Afrin were to fall to Turkey it would be the second Kurdish stronghold to fall to either Iran or Turkey in the past one and half months.

With the SDF offering the most stable option for a post war Syria, the US may have to forego its faltering relationship with Islamist Turkey in order to shore up a far more dependable ally it has found with the Kurds. If this happens, it may spell th end of Turkey’s membership in NATO.


The Growing Intersection Between Turkey, Trump, Kurdistan, and the Golan

The publication by Turkey of more than 200 US bases and places of presence across Western Kurdistan, now occupied by Syria drew the ire of the Trump administration and the US Defense establishment. The Turkish government went ahead and published this list and map in protest of the US policy in supporting the growing autonomy of Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria), which runs along the border of Turkey in Northern Syria.

“The discussion of specific troop numbers and locations would provide sensitive tactical information to the enemy which could endanger Coalition and partner forces,” wrote Col. Joe Scrocca, coalition director of public affairs.

“Publishing this type of information would be professionally irresponsible and we respectively [sic] request that you refrain from disseminating any information that would put Coalition lives in jeopardy.”

Turkey views the rise of an independent Kurdistan as a non-starter, unless it is contained to the KRG in Northern Iraq.  What is taking shape now though are two autnomous areas, which if joined would inspire Kurds living in Northern Kurdistan, occupied today by Turkey, to fight vigorously for their independence.

It is no secret that the US has ben aiding the YPG (Syrian Kurdish militias) and has rolled them into the broader Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but the continued strengthening of this militia has crossed a red line for Erdogan.

Did Trump trade the Southwest of Syria for Western Kurdistan?

Despite the current opposition from Washington to the KRG’s drive towards a referendum on independence, the Trump administration still views the Kurds as the best avenue to push back on Iran and stablize the region. There is a four way tussle for Syria: Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the USA. Some of the sides work together and others don’t, but these four countries are busy establishing zones of control.

Up until the G-20 Ceasefire with Russia, it appeared that the USA and Russia were heading to a direct confrontation in the Southwestern part of Syria.  To offset this, the Russians backed Turkey’s assault on the indigenous Kurds to the North.  Putin hates Erdogan, but was ready to use him to battle Washington. The ceasefire changes things. With relative quiet in the Southwest, Putin can put the brakes on supporting Turkey’s assault against the Kurdish directed SDF.

Trump’s strategy here is clear. Consolodate the US gains in Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria), while letting Israel and Russia learn to work together in the Southwest. Trump now has a fighting force in Syria that is not only moderate, but is experienced in pushing back against ISIS and other Sunni radicals. More than that he pins Erdogan down, preventing the neo-Sultan from implementing his goals of expanding Turkey.

This strategy seems to benefit the US, but has been seen as dangerous by Israel due to the partnership between Russia and Iran. Given the propensity for Iran to utilize the Russian army as cover to move in on Israel, the tacit agreement with Russia is dangerous. Iran has already moved into the DMZ East of Israel’s Golan. With Hezbollah contantly infiltrating the Har Dov area in the Northern Golan, a similar presence to the East under the protection of Russian troops appears too much Israel to put up with.

With Hezbollah preparing for war, Israel is fast working to establish a deconfliction policy with Russia in the greater Golan area.

Kurdish National Council in Syria Condemns Turkey’s Threats of Invasion

As Turkey continues to build up it armed forces in the Kilis Triangle in preparation of an invation of Syrian Kurdistan, the Kurdish National Council of Syria responded to the increased Turkish shelling of Afrin, a Kurdish stronghold in North-West Syria.

“We at the Kurdish National Council (KNC), while we support any effort to combat extremism and terrorism in all its forms and names, we believe that such actions will not serve international efforts to combat it and will hinder efforts to eliminate terrorism,” the KNC said.

“We call for dialogue to resolve the differences and concerns of various parties by peaceful means and international guarantees and to not make Afrin an area to settle differences, the KNC said.

“We affirm our rejection to the logic of military threats and the illegality of Turkish attitude towards Afrin and call on them to focus on combating terrorism. We call on our Kurdish people and the Arabs who are united by their co-existence, not to be dragged into hostile conflicts and reject the Turkish adventure that will not benefit anyone, and lead to the shedding of more blood,” the Kurdish council said.

Turkey claims the Kurdish YPG, also known as the People’s Protection Units is really a terrorist entity and rejects its overwhelming numbers within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which is backed by the United States.

The Turkish government has said its recent military movements in northwest Syria are legitimate measures in response to attacks from the YPG forces in the Afrin region.

“This is not a declaration of war. We are making preparations against potential threats,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday. “It’s … a legitimate measure so that we can protect our independence. We cannot remain silent against those sending missiles from Afrin.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said on Wednesday that Turkey was ready to carry out ground operations against the YPG if needed.

“If there is a threat against us, our troops will conduct any operations with the Free Syrian Army on the ground,” he told France 24 television.

With the threat of full scale invasion continuing to heat up the KRC has now appealed to their counterparts in the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) for help.

“We also appeal to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq and its presidency to make efforts to urge Turkey not to continue this scheme, and we call on Kurds in foreign countries to denounce these threats and hold demonstrations and protests against it in accordance with the laws of these countries and to appeal to international and civilian organizations interested in relief and humanitarian affairs,” the KNC said. “Long live Afrin.”

According to Kurdish sources in the North, a full scale attack on the YPG by the Turkish government will throw off the US backed attack on the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa. There is some logic to this view in that the SDF will be forced to fight the Turkish army and ths pull back from Raqqa.

ISIS, Turkish Weapon

The origins of ISIS are complex and find themselves rooted in both old guard Baathist drive to retake Iraq as well a joint Obama and Erdogan creation whose purpose was to destablize the Middle East in order for Erdogan to bring a renewed Ottoman stability. Turkey was to take those areas West of the Euphrates and Iran to the East.  ISIS has been a tool of the Turkish armed forces and poltical elite since the beginning. With Raqqa on the ropes, the Kurds not only would be forced to pull back, but the chaos machine known as the Islamic State would live another day.  Turkey would get what it wants.  The ability to destroy the YPG/SDF and lend fuel to the weapon they originally created.

As I wrote earlier inthe week, Afrin is a test for the Trump administration.  Are they willing to push back against Erdogan or let the Kurds get destroyed, thus rendering their entire war against ISIS pointless?

SYRIAN CRISIS: Why Did the Syrian Kurds Just Forfeit Shengal to the Syrian Regime?

In a strange turn of events the Syrian regime has been allowed to move in and out of Shengal with permission of the Syrian Kurdish Militia (YPG).  The YPG is being funded and supported by the Trump administration and makes up the majority of the Western backed SDF, which is leading the battle on Raqqa.

Have the Syrian Kurds backstabbed the American coalition? The answer is no.

My sources in Northern Syria give two possible explanations for the seemingly about face of the Syrian Kurdish militias.

The first possibility involves the consolidation of YPG controlled territory  West of the Euphrates.  Where as East of the Euphrates is now undeniably Kurdish, the Western part is still in dispute.  The YPG is making a calculation to build up their holdings using American backing, while regrouping to take the rest.

The second possibility is related to the announcement by the Turkish military has announced a build up of its armed forces in the Kilis triangle right near Shengal.  It is clear Erdogan means to use the triangle area to advance against the Kurdish positions in the area in order to crush the YPG West of the Euphrates. Erdogan recently said as much when he stated the following on his official Twitter account:

“I am calling on the whole world. We will never allow setting up of a [Kurdish] state in northern Syria no matter what the cost may be.”

Given this situation the YPG has had to capitulate to allowing Syrian Regime forces and Hezbollah move freely in and out of the Shengal area.

A further complication is the upcoming G-20 Summit where rumor has it that Trump and Putin will meet to find a way to tamp down the proxy war now underway in Syria.

Are the Kurds of Syria about to be Cornered by Turkey and Russia?

Enemies make great friends when interests converge.

Turkey has announced the imminent launch of a serious military operation in the Afrin district of Northern Syria to wipe out the Kurdish militias in the area.

Pro Syrian news sources have reported that Turkish backed Free Syrian Army rebels have defected to the Syrian regime army to fight the Kurds. Although it is hard to tell if this is an isolated event, the fact that Turkey inked a deal to buy the Russia S-400 anti-aircraft system shows how the once formidable ememies have come together against a common foe, the US and its Sunni Arab Alliance.

The Kurds have long played both sides, but recently the Trump administration have gone out of its way to court the Syrian Kurdish militas (YPG) and merged them with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).  The combination of moderate Syrian Arabs with elite Kurdish militias have proved pivotal in fighting the Islamic State.

With the coopting of the Northern wing of the FSA, which as opposed to its Southern wing is highly staffed by Turkish elements, the Kurds will have to contend with an Erdogan emboldened by Russian backing and a rebel force that is willing to fight to death to drive the Kurds back from their positions.

Israel and America Must Take a Stand

With the Kurdish army in Syria on the line, Israel and America must take a stand and stop the coming Turkish onlaught from decimating the one fighting force that has proven successful against Jihadist and stablizing for a post Assad Syria. If the Kurds fall in the North it will be another setback for America, Israel, and their Sunni Arab allies. Worst of all it would be just one more of a long list of American let downs in helping the truly indigenous Kurds finally reclaim their ancient homeland.

CRISIS IN SYRIA: US Forces Shoot Down Syrian Warplane for the First Time

The Syrian conflict moved one step closer to all out war between the US and Syria/Iran/Russia as the US led coalition shot down a Syrian government Su-22 fighter near the town of Tabqa as it was caught bombing Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces. The SDF was fighting ISIS in the area in preparation for its upcoming battle to take Raqqa.



What’s Next?

The mission creep pushed by the American government is clear to everyone at this point.  What is not clear is whether the Trump administration is willing to put more than special forces on the ground.

The following three points should be looked out for in the coming week in reaction to the Coalition’s downing of the Syrian warplane:

  1. Retaliation against the US and Jordanian forces now in the South-East of Syria
  2. Hezbollah Attack on Israel
  3. Russian aiding Syria against the SDF and YPG in the North

The Trump administration’s policy is to use local forces to fight its ground wars while providing logistics and air support.  In the expanded Syrian war the world is now entering, this may not be an option anymore. For example, Israel has been slowly creating a buffer zone East of the Golan, but as Southern Syria falls to government troops, Israel may not be able to hold off from entering the war in a more direct manner.

Trump’s plan seems to have one foot in and one foot out of Syria.  That works when towing the line between the semi-isolationist stance he took when running and the need to have an effect on the outcome of the war.  However, Russia and Iran are not holding back and it is not clear for how long the YPG/SDF as well as Israel’s allies close to the Golan can hold them back.

The downing of the Syrian jet maybe the first response to the growing Russian/Syrian/Iranian juggernaut.