Almost a week after the start of the criminal military operation called the “Olive Branch”, aimed at completely suppressing the Kurdish National Self-Defense Forces in the territory of the canton of Afrin, located in the “half-boiler”, as well as at the genocide and expulsion of the Yezidis from their original native land, the Turkish Armed Forces and the FSA formations supported by them actually signed on to their incapacity not only in the possibility of conducting an offensive operation in a difficult mountainous terrain in the west and north of the canton, but also in conducting military operations on relatively flat area east of the Afrin River. By January 27, 2018, thanks to the high professionalism of anti-tank calculations, as well as the tactically correct use of the YPG terrain, they managed to destroy at least 7 main combat tanks M60A3 / T-Sabra and Leopard-2A4 of the Turkish Ground Forces, while the forces of infantry units, snipers and machine-gun crews eliminated more than 308 pro-Turkish rebels from the Syrian Free Army and directly the Turkish Army drugs (among them 4 officer and 1 field commander of the so-called "Samarkand battalion").
More importantly, the Turkish tactical fighter F-16C / D Black 50 / + became extremely rarely operated in the airspace over the southwestern part of the canton of Afrin, because 4 was deployed at least in the vicinity of Aleppo to the Beech anti-aircraft missile division. -M1 / M2E ”, creating a no-fly zone up to the main city Afrin. This became known thanks to a message in the information window on the syria.liveuamap.com online map, citing both Kurdish and FSA sources. Also, judging by the incoming data, the establishment of an “umbrella” of air defense over the southern part of Afrin provoked one of the pilots of the Turkish F-16C to attempt to launch a rocket-air strike from a low-altitude mode outside the view area of the KLO and RPN 9C36, which led to shelling side of the Kurdish operators MANPADS "Strela / Stinger". Obviously, the car was seriously damaged, but was able to reach the nearest runway in Turkish territory. Information about the fall, unfortunately, is not confirmed, because the photo fact was not provided with the design elements of the fighter glider.
It can only be stated unequivocally that without the use of high-precision missile weapons (which allows Turkish pilots to attack targets in Afrin, without entering the radius of destruction of the Syrian air defense systems), the air part of the Olive Branch is, fortunately, not feasible. To such arms include tactical missiles of the SOM-A / B1 family from Tubitak-SAGE and ROKETSAN, which began to enter the Turkish Air Force on January 4, 2018; they are unlikely to be used by the Turks due to the high cost of the product. Consequently, the only thing that the Turkish F-16C / D pilots “masterfully” perform is delivering merciless bombing strikes on peaceful neighborhoods and YPG fortified areas in the settlements of the canton of Afrin, located far from the air defense means of the Syrian armed forces, for example, Dzhandaris, Sheikh Hadid, Raju, etc. (only here is Turkish aviation at medium altitudes it feels like a fish in water); to date, this has led to the deaths of 43 fighter defenders of Afrin and 59 civilians.
The engagement of the CCA militants and units of the Turkish army in border clashes has already forced Hulusi Akara and other persons from the command to take extreme measures to implement the Olive Branch. So, on the evening of January 25, on his Twitter page, reporter Ibrahim Haskologlu posted pictures of the C-45E Hercules military aircraft arriving at the airport in Gaziantep-Oguseli (130 km from the canton of Afrin) Gaziantep is a large formation (at least 3-x platoons, 92 infantrymen) 49-brigade commandos of the Special Forces of Turkey. The forces that have arrived have already been distributed to several operational areas of the canton of Afrin. Given the long-established tactics, part of the Turkish SSO can be deployed near the Syrian-Turkish border to prevent military activity by YPG supporters living in southern silts of Turkey, as well as to prevent them from switching to the Kurdish National Self-Defense Forces.
Subdivisions of the 49 commando brigade at the airport "Gaziantep Oguzeli"
At the same time, one of the most considered versions of the sudden transfer of SSO to Gaziantep is also the support of offensive actions by the pro-Turkish “Free Syrian Army” in the mountainous areas of the canton of Afrin. First of all, it is the Western Front in the area of the villages of Khalil Kulku and Maamal. During daylight hours, 26 January, according to the settlements, many hours of artillery preparation from the Turkish T-155 “Firtina” self-propelled artillery systems, MLRS, were also struck with links of F-16C / D multipurpose fighter jets. The purpose of the artillery strikes and airstrikes was the demoralization of Kurdish fighters and the “softening” of the military stability of the YPG fortified areas covering the strategic road junction “Khalil Kulku / Maamal-Afrin”, as well as an equally important section of the Raju-Rifat railway branch line that passes through the central part of the canton abounding in numerous intermountain depressions. The Turks are planning an offensive “jerk” from Khalil-Kulk to the above highway to Afrin. Numerous artillery and rocket-bombing attacks on YPG opornics located in mountain villages, as well as the work of the Special Forces against Kurdish ATGM operators, are being considered in support of the offensive armor and infantry divisions of the armed forces of Turkey in the southeast operational direction.
Nevertheless, Kurdish “tactics” —camelers, who know all the details of the cantonal relief to the smallest details, have already prepared “trump” ambushes to fire obsolete Turkish tanks not equipped with remote sensing equipment into the most vulnerable side and stern projections. As a result, for the transfer of hostilities closer to the center of the canton of Afrin, the SSA has a strong point, this is already evident. The “greens” are losing trapped positions on all border borders of the canton, even with full Turkish support. For example, the villages of Qurnah and Ibadan, captured on January 25, were released by the YPG troops the very next day. Moreover, in the captivity of the Kurdish units defending Afrin, there are more than 450 pro-Turkish militants and soldiers of the occupying Turkish army, which is far from an incentive for the FSA to continue the utopian operation called the Olive Branch.
An equally important fact is that some units of the YPG / YPJ on the eastern bank of the Euphrates have anti-tank weapons such as: FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank systems (in an unknown number of TPCs and ATGMs), 1000 - 1200, the French Milan-2 anti-tank systems , 5500 - 5800 "Panzerfaust-3", several tens of thousands of Swedish disposable RPGs AT-4, an unknown number of Yugoslav RPGs M57, as well as Chinese ATGM HJ-8E (photo below). It is quite clear that some of these PT-weapons capable of effectively fighting Turkish tanks and infantry fighting vehicles can be transferred to the YPG, which defends the canton of Afrin (only the FGM-148 "Javelin" movement can be banned, because these weapons are controlled by American military in Racca and Hasek). In the same turn, adding the above RPGs and ATGMs (even without “Darts”) to the TOW-2A / B already available to the Afrians will help to bring the NE of Turkey to a complete dead end.
As for Erdogan, he continues to lead an extremely insidious and intricate double game, not disdaining the use of such “tools” as “Dzhebhat al-Nusra”, and, if possible, IG. For example, a well-known militant - the head of the terrorist group "An-Nusra" ("Tahrir ash-Sham") Abu Muhammad al-Dzhulani is already quietly taking a selfie together with the militants from the "Free Syrian Army" in the north of the "Idlib gadyushnik". As is known, this sector is a kind of unincorporated territory of Turkey in the SAR. Consequently, Ankara fully encourages the unification of the Syrian wing of Al-Qaida with the Free Syrian Army. So it turns out, my friends! Well, what are we? We close our eyes to what is happening, continuing to “make friends” with Erdogan, because the permission for laying the 2 line of the “Turkish Stream” in the exclusive economic zone of the republic was issued by its subordinate structures. Fortunately, at least the aggression against Afrin was criticized at the level of the foreign affairs agencies, and they were also able to convince the representatives of the African SDFs to come to the Sochi Congress of the Syrian national dialogue. Meanwhile, the terrorist units of Muhammad al-Dzhulani, together with the FSA, have already opened the 2 front against the YPG on the southern borders of the Afrin canton, which requires the arrival in the canton of an even larger number of Kurdish reinforcements from the Rozhava and a multi-national volunteer contingent from Russia, Germany, USA , Canada, France, etc.
Other, no less disturbing details of the Turkish presence in the Idlib Gadyushnik are also visible. In particular, a large convoy of Turkish NE crossed the Syrian-Turkish border in the uncontrolled CAA of the province of Idlib, then moved in the direction of Abu Dukhur. Various sources report that the units of the Turkish army that were part of the convoy turned on the territory controlled by Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham (in 8 km from the front line) and closely monitor the course of terrorist operations with the Syrian Arab Army. Moreover, reliable sources in the Syrian leadership emphasize that the command of the Turkish Armed Forces and the leadership of the republic are waiting for the patronized Tahrir ash-Sham and SSA militants to be secured in tactically advantageous positions in the southern part of Idlib. It is obvious that only after that the Turkish side will be ready to present its conditions at the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, which will be held in Sochi from 29 to 30 in January. What conclusion can be made on the basis of this information?
Despite numerous hurray-patriotic notes of some of our “specialists” about the benefits of the Olive Branch, there can be no equivalent exchange between the canton Afrin and the Idlib Gadyushnik. The maximum that we observed after the start of the Erdoganov military action in Afrin was a breakthrough of the Tahrir ash-Sham defense line in the area of the Abu Dukhur airbase. The further advancement of the Tiger Forces and other units of the Syrian army noticeably got bogged down. The peaceful transfer of Idlib to the control of the CAA is not on the agenda of Ankara. More importantly, the Turkish convoy under the Tel Kabah is already controlling that the Assad government forces do not advance a kilometer in the north-west operational direction. Against this background, some Russian and foreign sources referring to the Al Masdr News resource report on the impending large-scale offensive of the An-Nusrovites, which is quite capable of leading to the loss of such settlements as Kurnaz (the first contender for the “boiler” in the southern part Idlib gadyushnika ”), Khader (in 25 km south of Aleppo), and with the best scenario, and the repeated loss of Abu Dukhur. The combat capability of the “Dzhebhat al-Nusra” is supported solely by comprehensive military-technical assistance from Turkey.
Now let's take another look at the tactical picture in the northwestern section of the Syrian theater of operations in the light of the refusal of the opposition FSA to participate in the negotiations at the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue. The “moderate” pro-Turkish militants, in fact, completely freed themselves from any obligations that should theoretically have been made in the course of settlement agreements at the upcoming congress. As a result, initially (before participating in any dialogue to create a de-escalation zone), Ankara was counting on a blitzkrieg against both YPG units in Afrin and against SDF units in the Manbidge region (on the west coast of the Euphrates) using her own tactical aviation and armored units and brigade commandos. The Manbij Kurds were to be driven out to the left bank of the Euphrates, and the Afrinsky - to be subjected to genocide and expelled to the territory of Aleppo, controlled by the Syrian Arab Army.
In accordance with the plans of the Turkish leadership, the successful implementation of this task would mean the creation of a full-fledged Northern Front of the SSA for further offensive on the territories under the control of the Syrian government forces. As we noted earlier, Canton Afrin is a strategic “barrier” for building an FSA 215-kilometer offensive “fist” along the provinces of Lattakia, Idlib and Aleppo. After stripping Afrin, a situation may arise in which the central city of Aleppo, Tell-Arana, as well as many other localities will end up in a huge tactical "cauldron" of the pro-Turkish forces. This should be “hacked to death” both in Damascus and in Moscow, not counting on any mutually beneficial “exchanges of Afrin for Idlib” and other inventions of some of our mass media that are inappropriate to reality. The fact is that all these tactical moments are links of the ambitious military operation of the Turkish army called “Euphrates Shield”, which was presented by Erdogan in November 2016 as one of the primary measures to overthrow the Bashar Assad regime.
At the current moment, a week after the start of the obviously failed Olive Branch operation, the tactical alignment continues to play into the hands of Damascus, Moscow and Washington: YPG and YPJ troops actively supported by volunteers, as well as small arms, anti-tank and portable anti-aircraft missile weapons, loaded the Turkish army in a protracted and exhausting confrontation, capable of just a few months to weaken Turkey in geostrategic terms, which only improves the position of the CAA. So, in addition to huge losses in manpower (more than 400 people according to YPG), 7 destroyed tanks and several wounded armored vehicles, the Kurds managed to damage the Falcon and intercept a light attack helicopter (T-129 ATAK or AH-1P / S "Cobra "). Apparently, this was not enough for Erdogan, since in the evening of January 26 he announced the imminent discovery of the “Manbidz Front” (last week Turkish aircraft already launched pinpoint strikes on several SDF objects in the Manbij area). Tied up in battles in this operational area, where the SDF units are abundantly equipped with American weapons, the Turkish Armed Forces will finally lose the previously existing combat stability. Obviously, the combat potential and future of the canton of Afrin today depends exclusively on the existing “corridor” “Zahra-Nubl”, which is securely held by the Syrian armed forces. It is also clear that these lands are unlikely to be surrendered to the Turkish army and the terrorist / opposition groups friendly to it.