The situation around Turkish aggression against the Kurdish canton of Afrin begins to develop in a completely unpredictable, only partially corrected direction by Damascus, Moscow and Washington. The tactical military operation “Olive Branch”, which began Saturday night on January 20 with a massive artillery strike of 155-mm self-propelled guns T-155 “Firtina” batteries and 227-mm MLRS MLRS, as well as a bombing strike of 72 tactical multi-purpose fighters F-16C / D Block 50/50 +, as a result, was noticeably stalled due to the coordinated actions of Kurdish anti-tank crews, who have vast experience in building anti-tank zones of restriction and prohibition of access and maneuver in the most difficult elevated terrain of the western and northern parts of the canton of Afrin. Being anti-tank virtuosos in terms of using the Fagot, Konkurs / -M and Metis complexes, the YPG / YPJ Athens detachments destroyed 5 main combat units on the very first day after the start of the ground stage of the Olive Branch tanks, which are in service with the Turkish Turkish Army, the list of which included not only the obsolete US Paton M60A1 / 3 with the equivalent frontal projection resistance of the tower of 260 mm and VLD - 220 mm, but also the more formidable German Leopard-2A4 vehicles, equivalent resistance the frontal projection of which from cumulative shells is 900-1050 mm (for the frontal armor plates of the tower) and 760 mm (for the upper frontal part of the hull). One of the tanks was damaged by the entry of ATGM into the side armor plate of the aft part of the tank.
The only achievement of the pro-Turkish “green” militants of the “Syrian Free Army” was the 2 — 5-kilometer advance into the territory of the Afrin canton on the northern part of the Syrian-Turkish border, up to the settlement of El-Shayuh Hurus, which is a tactically important springboard to ensure the offensive the channel on the west bank of the Afrin river of the same name due to the dominant (at the height) location of this settlement. In the same turn, the fire support of the rebels advancing along the riverbed from the hill near Shushuh is possible only up to the village of Durakli, located in 3 km to the south, because it is precisely such distances that limit the aimed fire of large-caliber sniper rifles and other small arms. As you can see, in this direction the pro-Turkish forces will long become bogged down in sluggish and exhausting battles with the defenders of Afrin, a similar situation can be traced in other mountain areas of the canton.
For example, positions captured on January 22 by FSA fighters on Mount Bersai ordered a long life. The well-developed trench system erected by YPG fighters made it possible to knock rebels out of occupied oporniks in just 8-12 hours. The successful return of Bersai was also facilitated by the tactically thought-out and rational distribution of sniper positions, machine-gun crews and assault squads moving forward from the village of Kastal. During the day, reinforcements from the capital city of Afrin repeatedly arrived in this locality, which played a decisive role in the failure of the Bersai operation of the SSA. It can be noted that with the ground phase of the “Olive Branch”, the Turkish NE and the forces of the armed opposition supporting them very seriously “shook up”. Any attempt to blitzkrieg in the direction of Afrin will end with the “burning” of dozens or even hundreds of units of Turkish armored vehicles from Soviet / Russian anti-tank systems, armed with Kurdish units. Moreover, as you might have noticed on the summaries and tactical online map syria.liveuamap.com, starting in the morning of January 21, tactical aviation The Turkish Air Force (F-16C / D fighters) has ceased to operate in the airspace over Afrin, as if by magic. The reason can be guessed the first time!
That's right, the Syrian Arab Army's transfer of air defense equipment to the southern approaches to Afrin, among which there may be Buk-M1 / 2E self-propelled anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as Pantsir-C1 anti-aircraft missile and artillery systems. This information was not replicated in news Runet and Syrian Internet publications; it became known exclusively through Kurdish sources and the opposition Syrian online map syria.liveuamap.com. What we have? The above air defense systems (in particular, this concerns the Buk-M2E complex) are capable of establishing a no-fly zone over the entire southern territory of the Afrin canton, including the administrative center of the Kurdish enclave. As a result, the capabilities of the Turkish Air Force in the tasks of direct support of the SSA formations advancing on the canton will turn out to be zero, since the pilots of the Turkish F-16C will be forced to nestle on the surface (operating at ultra-low altitudes in the mode of following the terrain). And this, in turn, will lead to hitting the high-altitude lines of interception of the Stinger and Strela MANPADS, which are in service with the YPG / YPJ. This can explain the rapid curtailment of the air phase of Operation Olive Branch, because it is no coincidence that the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic Faisal Mikdad, a couple of days before the Turkish MRAU for Afrin, warned of the interception of Turkish military aircraft violating the airspace of the SAR.
Despite the fact that the deployment of anti-aircraft missiles for the implementation of the warning was carried out with a "late ignition" and the Turkish Falcons were still able to inflict more 115 precision strikes on the positions of the Kurdish National Self-Defense Forces, they are so noticeable in favor of the pro-Turkish forces and did not lead. Now time is far from being in favor of the militants of the “Syrian Free Army” and the NE of Turkey: unable to support the “green” groups from the air, in the canton of Afrin every day continues to work out the cannon as well as rocket artillery, which does not allow to achieve the required efficiency in the destruction of the defense infrastructure of the Kurdish enclave. At this point, the YPG / YPJ Afrin detachments continue to actively build up their combat potential, accepting well-armed volunteer units from all over Syrian Kurdistan, as well as from Syrian territory controlled by the government of the Syrian Arab Army. For example, the motorways from the cities of Aleppo, Az-Zahra and Nubel, controlled by the legitimate government, are fully open to defenders arriving in Afrin from all of Front Asia, as well as Europe. Undoubtedly, the largest number of armed fighters come from Manbij, Kamishli, Raqqah and Hasakah.
Therefore, the Turkish Air Force, as well as artillery units do not stop trying to prevent the transfer of Kurdish reinforcements from cities located in the northern parts of the Euphrates and Jazeera regions (in the fire control zone of the Turkish air-to-surface class). For example, 22 in January 2018 of the year, a Turkish rocket was launched from the outskirts of the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar in Kurdish Ras al-Ainu. On the same day, an airstrike was struck against a Kurdish convoy that advanced towards Afrin from the western neighborhood of Kamishli. Nevertheless, all these “movements” of Ankara do not give any results, especially considering the possible arrival of several thousand Kurdish fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan. It is worth noting here that despite the provocative anti-Syrian statements made by Maldan Bakhtiar, representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (stated the need for SFA field commanders to realize that "her rights were violated not by Afrin, but by Damascus), the operational deployment of armed Iraqi Kurds, as well as SDF volunteers in Afrin will be a very profitable action for both Syria and Russia. The piquant detail here is that it is the African YPG detachments, together with the SDF who came to the rescue, can play a rather important role in the stripping of the "Idlib gadyushnik."
Let's finally take a look at the situation from the right angle, without blindly praising the ghostly friendship with Recep Erdogan, and also not constantly looking at the recent receipt of permission to build the second branch of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. Here we see this scenario. Not everyone remembers that October 7 2017, Erdogan announced a "serious military operation" in the province of Idlib against militants "Dzhebhat al-Nusra", IG and other terrorist groups. He also “swore” that “Turkish brothers” from the SFA are already involved in active confrontation with terrorists to the fullest extent. But what did we observe in practice? Ankara has no plans to begin any active phase in the fight against the inhabitants of the Ilib Gadyushnik: since the October announcement of Tayyip Erdogan on the positions of Al-Nusra and the IG, there has not been a single decent missile and artillery strike from the Turkish Firtin and MLRS, likewise, the tactical aviation of the Turkish Air Force did not work for terrorists. Is this not an indicator of Erdogan's true intentions?
Why, despite being in a tactical “cauldron” (surrounded by the Syrian-Turkish border and the territory controlled by the CAA), did the “idlibsky rabble” continue to withstand fierce resistance to the government forces almost without difficulty? And this is after thousands of rocket and air strikes by the Russian Aerospace Force and the Syrian Air Force! With 100% probability, it can be argued that all these “green formations” from SFA to Dzhebhat an-Nusra continue to receive support across the Turkish border in the Hatay silt area. Do not understand this is impossible. Conclusion: Erdogan and Yildyrim continue to use all strata of terrorist groups as their “hand-held Cerberus” to adjust the military-political picture in the north of the SAR in their favor. However, this is not the most interesting fact in the “Syrian denouement”.
Washington may soon intervene in the situation around Afrin Canton, which, after careful analysis of the observed neutrality on the part of Damascus and Moscow, is already considering the possibility of creating a new “security zone” in the northern part of the Afrin canton to “stabilize the situation and meet Turkey’s demands. On this, 22 January, during a visit to France, said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. And no matter how unpleasant it is to realize, once again all the trump cards can be in the hands of the States. Playing the “Afrin card” by the White House does not promise anything good for the northwestern provinces of Syria: the Afrin YPGs that previously relied on our military police will instantly see their “savior” in the States and from that moment an expanded American presence will take place “two steps” from Avb Hamim. You do not need to have great talents to understand what consequences it is fraught with. Naturally, this is the opening of channels for the supply of American weapons to Idlib in order to constantly maintain a hotbed of tension exhausting the Syrian army; This includes regular attacks by Ahrar al-Sham, radical branches of the FSA and other groups against Russian and Syrian military installations in Tartus and Latakia. Admission of Americans to Afrin can be a very unpleasant strategic miscalculation of the Syrian and Russian sides.
Meanwhile, there is still time to think, because the Turkish government spokesman Bekir Bozdag gave Tillerson a clear answer that Ankara would continue the confrontation with the YPG (without any “security zones”) until the military support of the “Syrian Democratic forces "in the main territory of the Rozhava. The most sensible and sudden decision for both Ankara and Washington would be the introduction of units of the regular Syrian army in Afrin under the cover of Russian air defenses. Already this would once and for all put a fat point in the intricacies of the imperial plans of the United States and Turkey on the partitioning of the north-western territories of Syria.