In order to understand Turkey’s approach toward the conflict in Syria, one first needs to explain the military situation there as of September 2018.
There are localized clashes between militant groups led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in northern Latakia and southern Idlib. The Syrian Arab Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces are carrying out strikes on weapon depots, equipment and UAV workshops and key facilities belonging to militants in southern and southwestern Idlib.
These as well as deployment of additional SAA units at the contact line between the militant-held and government-held areas are described by pro-militant sources as clear sings of the upcoming SAA operation to defeat Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-like factions there.
In Suweida and Rif Dimashq, the SAA is still working to eliminate ISIS cells operating in the desert area. Separate ISIS attacks on the SAA and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) happen time to time.
In those parts of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor provinces, which are controlled by the Kurdish-dominated SDF, the health care system has been totally destroyed, and no effort is being made to restore major infrastructure. Many of the areas under SDF control suffer from epidemics due to the shortage of clean water, and nearly total absence of medical services. The situation particularly bad, when it comes to restoring normal life and services. Local authorities, who should be involved in these matters, are mainly concerned with their own well-being. Kurdish leaders still view their main task as the creation of an independent enclave and later their own state in these territories. This is why their main concern is to keep the political and military dominance in the Arab-populated area.
Click to see the full-size image
Negotiations between Damascus and the Kurds are continuing at a slow pace. The Kurdish political leadership are seeking to get concessions from Damascus, for example some kind of federation within Syria.
Afrin, controlled by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and Ankara proxies, is experiencing low-intensity guerilla war. Cells of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) regularly carry out bombings and run attacks on Turkey-led forces.