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Die or ask the Syrian government to take them in: The Kurdish militias simply have no other options

The state of play

Turkish forces are targeting two areas, Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad. They have inched forward 10-15 km into Syrian territory towards Ras al-Ayn and are up to 30 km inside Syria on the way to Tel Abyad. They have even set up a foothold mid-way. The Turkish army wants to block the strategic M4 highway along the Turkish border, which links Syria’s economic capital Aleppo with its administrative center, Al-Hasakah, in the country’s north-east.

Turkey has deployed commandos, special ops forces, tanks and artillery. Its forces on the ground, all part of Operation Peace Spring, include 14,000 troops, 120 tanks, 230 armored combat vehicles and 240 artillery pieces.

Ankara’s campaign is also supported by the Free Syrian Army (also known as the New Syrian Army), which has been sent into the vanguard of the offensive by Turkey. That would put the total headcount at about 25,000 soldiers and officers. Most importantly, the ground troops are supported by five squadrons of the Turkish air force, with 12-18 sorties every day.

Turkey’s military planners will seek to surround the key defensive locations of the Kurds, and push locals to the south and east, towards the Iraqi border. More than 120,000 civilians have been displaced, fleeing Turkish troops and the so called Syrian National Army for the towns of Qamishli and Al-Hasakah.

Up to half a million people to the north of the Euphrates may become displaced in the coming days. Turkish air raids are increasingly targeting civilian facilities, including camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and detention centers for former Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) fighters (including from the US and Europe) and their families.

The Kurds’ options

As for the Kurdish resistance, it will be crushed in any case, since the Turkish army is superior to the Kurds’ in heavy weapons and Ankara dominates the skies. And, frankly, some sources are clearly overestimating the Kurdish forces’ combat effectiveness.

The best Kurdish units can probably match Syrian general Suheil al-Hassan’s battalions. That is to say, Kurds can win against an adversary of similar strength. Faced with a modern army trained and equipped according to NATO standards with fighter jets, helicopters, tanks, artillery, recon and electronic warfare systems, Kurds stand no chance of winning.

The Turks had notified the Russian military attaché based in the embassy in Ankara about Operation Peace Spring, whereas the command of Russian forces in Syria hadn’t been notified in time. Today, they use comms to talk once or twice daily.

What options do the Kurds have left now? Their only option seems to be for the Syrian Democratic Forces to withdraw from the border and lay down their arms. The most combat-effective units can be restructured and integrated into the regular Syrian army.

The other option is to die fighting. It seems the Syrian Democratic Forces have no more variants. To survive, they have to come under the Syrian government’s wing. That’s the reality the Kurdish leadership has to accept sooner or later. Today, everything is against the Kurds.

When the counter-terrorism operation aimed at crushing IS kicked off, the Kurds were approached by the Russian command and some top Syrian officials. At first, the Kurds seemed to be making steps towards working together, but soon enough they ended up under US control and all talks about cooperation fizzled out. Basically, back then the US just paid the Kurds handsome sums so that they carry out military operations against IS. By and large, that’s what the Kurds were living on.

The best Kurdish units can probably match Syrian general Suheil al-Hassan’s battalions. That is to say, Kurds can win against an adversary of similar strength. Faced with a modern army trained and equipped according to NATO standards with fighter jets, helicopters, tanks, artillery, recon and electronic warfare systems, Kurds stand no chance of winning.

The Turks had notified the Russian military attaché based in the embassy in Ankara about Operation Peace Spring, whereas the command of Russian forces in Syria hadn’t been notified in time. Today, they use comms to talk once or twice daily.

What options do the Kurds have left now? Their only option seems to be for the Syrian Democratic Forces to withdraw from the border and lay down their arms. The most combat-effective units can be restructured and integrated into the regular Syrian army.

The other option is to die fighting. It seems the Syrian Democratic Forces have no more variants. To survive, they have to come under the Syrian government’s wing. That’s the reality the Kurdish leadership has to accept sooner or later. Today, everything is against the Kurds.

When the counter-terrorism operation aimed at crushing IS kicked off, the Kurds were approached by the Russian command and some top Syrian officials. At first, the Kurds seemed to be making steps towards working together, but soon enough they ended up under US control and all talks about cooperation fizzled out. Basically, back then the US just paid the Kurds handsome sums so that they carry out military operations against IS. By and large, that’s what the Kurds were living on.

Turkey’s endgame

What’s next? When will the Turks leave northeastern Syria? Thus far, they have maintained their presence in Northern Cyprus, al-Bab, Afrin and Idlib. As for the Syrian regions bordering Turkey and occupied by Turkish troops, the local population is being actively ‘turkeyfied’: branch campuses of Turkish universities are opened, Turkish banks start operating in Syria, and in schools, children are being taught in Turkish.

It appears that Operation Peace Spring will be completed once the Turkish army reaches the strategic M4 highway. However, it is highly likely that, within months after they do, a concrete wall several meters high will be constructed along this road.

What’s next? When will the Turks leave northeastern Syria? Thus far, they have maintained their presence in Northern Cyprus, al-Bab, Afrin and Idlib. As for the Syrian regions bordering Turkey and occupied by Turkish troops, the local population is being actively ‘turkeyfied’: branch campuses of Turkish universities are opened, Turkish banks start operating in Syria, and in schools, children are being taught in Turkish.

It appears that Operation Peace Spring will be completed once the Turkish army reaches the strategic M4 highway. However, it is highly likely that, within months after they do, a concrete wall several meters high will be constructed along this road.

Source: RT