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Sat, 25 Jan 2020 19:53 GMT

Turkey Faces Syrian Rejection as Chaos Prevails in ‘Safe Zone’

Counterterrorism & Security

7Dnews London

Tue, 19 Nov 2019 19:52 GMT

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, there have been national, regional and international rejections of the Turkish presence in Syria and keenness for Syria’s unity. Two days ago, at least 19 people were killed and 50 others injured after a car bomb exploded in the Syrian city of Al-Bab. Al-Bab city has been part of the zone guaranteed by Turkey's Euphrates Shield operation since 2016.

Al-Arabiya reported, there have been massive demonstrations at Al-Bab city, north of Syria, demanding the departure of Turkish troops from the country, in light of the recent events and developments following a suicide bombing on Saturday that killed at least 19 people, including 13 civilians, and injuring 50 people. Angry demonstrators were chanting slogans against the Turkish presence, including "Al-Bab is free, free, the Turkish presence must depart our land".

Syrians are deeply outraged by the perpetrator of the suicide bombing, and demand his execution. However, the people’s demand was met by handing over the perpetrator to the Turkish authorities. Sources told the Syrian Observatory that dozens of young people went to the Centre Garden of Al-Bab and broke down its walls in addition to committing acts of sabotage. The sources confirmed to the Observatory that Turkish officers instructed factions loyal to Turkey to fire at the demonstrators.

Turkey's declared aim was to fight Isis, whereas its actual strategic goal is to prevent US-backed Kurdish forces from expanding into areas west of the Euphrates. Turkey is seeking to build 10 districts and 140 villages in this region to house at least one million Syrian refugees residing in Turkey.

According to Middle East Online, residents were seen stoning Turkish and Russian armoured vehicles in Syria’s north-eastern region as they reject their presence. Although Russia is Syria’s strongest ally, dozens were seen stopping two Russian armoured vehicles, climbing over them and attacking their crew. Russia's Defence Ministry said there had been no attacks against the Russian patrol during its mission. The Turkish Defence Ministry tweeted pictures showing Turkish and Russian soldiers gathered at the border while studying maps before the patrol began. It said drones were also involved.

Russia is the strongest ally of the Syrian government, and since 2015 has helped it wrest control of much of the country from armed opposition, reversing the war. The Turkish-Russian agreement allowed Syrian government forces to return to the border areas which they had been absent from for years.

Voicing his opinion, Rami Abdel-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told The Independent that "what is happening in Al-Bab is a popular uprising against pro-Turkish groups that control the city and against the Turkish forces which only make political accusations."

Abdel-Rahman pointed out that "People know the person who detonated the car bomb in Al-Bab. He was a former member of Isis and later joined the faction of the Al-Hamzat squad.” Abdel-Rahman noted that the suspect in the bombing of Al-Bab, the inhabitants of the countryside and of the city are not Kurdish. He called on an actual Turkish explanation instead of publishing a political statement. Turkey is well aware that it will face serious political, economic and military challenges if it imposes its control over Syrian territories, according to Abdel-Rahman, because the US and Russia, have all warned against doing so. In fact, President Trump has threatened to "destroy" Turkey's economy if Syrian Kurds are attacked.

“A safe zone created by Turkey could become the scene of a rift between the Syrian government and Ankara, between Turkish-sponsored Arab groups and the YPG, and between Kurds and the returning Arab refugees. This, in turn, could provide an environment conducive to the return of Isis,” said Abdel-Rahman while adding none of these scenarios are of Turkey's or Washington's interest, that is why Ankara has tried hard to persuade the US to cooperate with it.

Meanwhile, Syrians reject the Turkish presence on their territory and the credibility of Trump is at stake. Since US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, a deterioration of the situatio in northern Syria has been rapidly taking place. Syrians “categorically" reject the Turkish presence on Syrian territory or its administration of the planned safe zone. According to BBC, US Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of President Donald Trump, called the US move "a disaster" while the UN humanitarian coordinator said they are preparing themselves for the worst which is yet to come.

Middle East