After the second successive night of Turkish cross-border bombing attacks on the Islamic State in northern Syria, Ankara and Washington agreed Saturday, July 25, to name the “security zone” covered by a “partial no fly zone” they had declared in northern Syria the “Islamic State free zone.” Click HERE for full-size map!
This name represents a significant US-Turkish concession to Iran of immunity for its allies, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah, in order to gain Tehran’s cooperation in the campaign Turkey launched against ISIS Friday. Integral to the deal is also a promise to abstain from using the campaign to grant anti-Assad rebel groups any advantages.
This immunity did not extend to the Kurdish Workers Movement (PKK), which were targeted in the course of Turkish air and ground action in and over the new “security zone.” Those warplanes also flew missions Friday night over the PKK bases and logistical facilities in the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq. The PKK responded Saturday with an announcement that their armistice with Ankara was over. Turkey may consequently expect a recurrence of Kurdish terrorist violence in its cities, debkafile notes.
High-placed sources in Ankara disclosed details of the US-Turkish deal with Iran. US warplanes will have the use of Turkish air bases, and not just the big Incirlik facility, for staging air strikes against ISIS, so long as Syrian targets are avoided. Washington agreed to Ankara using its air and ground operations against ISIS in Syria to drive into the new “security zone” and push toward the east to continue those attacks – eve if they run up against Kurdish forces which are also fighting ISIS.
The security zone’s area covered by a no-fly zone is 90 km wide and 40km deep, running between Mere, a small town 25 km north o Aleppo in the west, to the northwestern town of Jarabulus, which is situated on the west bank of the Euphrates.
Not exactly by chance, the security zone bisects Kurdish territory and holds back Kurdish forces in their assaults on ISIS.
debkafile’s military sources report that a glance at the map betrays an all-out US-Turkish effort not put up backs in Tehran by interfering with Syrian, Hizballah and pro-Iranian militia operations in critical northern Syrian war zones such as Aleppo or give the Syrian rebels a helping hand in the Idlib province.
The combined US-Turkish action moreover greatly supports the Assad-Hizballah war against ISIS gains in Syria and enhances Iranian and Russian influence in Damascus.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, in Irbil Friday, July 24, assured leaders of the semiautonomous Kurdish Republic of Iraq. “We are trying to build a force through the territory of Iraq, and someday in Syria, that can do what the peshmerga have achieved.”
At the same time, in Syria, the Kurds and their national aspirations look like losing out dramatically in the fallout from the complex US-Turkish partnership for beating ISIS back.