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Despite Erdogan’s bravado, his Syrian offensive is squeezed in a US-Russian hug

DEBKAfile’s sources have learned that Putin warned Erdogan that if the Turkish army attacked the Syrian forces which arrived to defend Kurdish districts against a Turkish onslaught, the Russian air force would intervene.

Trump is believed to have focused his warning against a Turkish assault on the key SDF-held town of Kobani and its environs. He demanded a pledge from Erdogan to stop his forces and allied Syrian militias from entering this town and to halt attempts to seize control of the strategic M4 highway.

The Turkish leader demanded as a quid pro quo that the US president guarantee that the Syrian forces not far from Kobani won’t enter the town. However, since Moscow holds the whip hand over the Syria army, it was necessary for the American and Russian foreign and defense ministers to confer on this. For now, the SDF retains control of the town, shielded by Russian special forces.

Erdogan finds his troop movements increasingly constricted by the tough dictates coming at him from Washington and Moscow. They are operating in concert in a still unpredictable, inflammable situation.