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Turkey launches Operation Spring Shield




Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar yesterday announced the name of the fourth operation of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the Syrian territories under the name of Operation Spring Shield.

The first three offensives were aimed at crossing the Turkish borders of terrorists, ISIL through Operation Euphrates Shield in August 2016 and YPG / PKK through operation

Olive Branch in 2018 and Operation Peace Spring in October 2019.

This latest operation, however, directly targets the Syrian army and is taking place in Idlib province in the northwest of the country, marking a first in almost a decade-old conflict.

The political reasons and objectives of the operation were also explained by Akar. According to Akar, protecting the Syrians from the massive and brutal attacks of the Bashar al-Assad regime and establishing a lasting ceasefire in the region are two main objectives. But he did not specify whether the Turkish army would advance south to repel the Syrian army in the southern part of Idlib.

The uncertainty stems from the fact that Akar did not cite the withdrawal of the Syrian army outside the demilitarized zone among the objectives of the operation. Turkey had set the end of February as the deadline for the withdrawal of the Syrian army from the demilitarized zone in accordance with the Sochi agreement in September 2018.

Our main goals are a sustainable ceasefire and stability. But no one should doubt that we will respond relentlessly in the most aggressive manner to any attack on our troops, our observation posts and our military deployments in the context of self-defense, Akar said.

He also explained that the Turkish operation was in conformity with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations which guarantees the right of States to self-defense while stressing that Turkey continues to fulfill its obligations. its responsibilities and duties in accordance with the Sochi agreement with Russia.

Turkey has neither the intention nor the desire to face Russia in Syria, he reiterated, calling on Moscow to use its influence on Syria to stop its attacks on the troops and Turkish civilians in the enclave as well as to withdraw to the borders set by the Sochi agreement. This shows that Turkey is still demanding the withdrawal of the Syrian army, but it wants Russia to do so.

However, it is highly doubtful that Russia will at some point try to understand the concerns and sensitivities of the Turks regarding Idlib. A telephone conversation between President Recep Tayyip Erdoan and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not immediately resolve the problem, even though the tension on the ground reached a very dangerous level after the murder of 34 Turkish soldiers by the ; Syrian army.

The two leaders are expected to meet again in the coming days, but the fact that a breakthrough can only be achieved if one of the parties makes concessions turns future talks into an almost impossible mission. However, the hope of a negotiated settlement based on mutual compromise is there because this region can no longer manage another conflict, this time between Turkey and Syria.

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