In an unusual escalation, the National Syrian Army (NSA), Turkey’s main proxy in Syria, announced on August 5 that it had shelled positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northern Aleppo countryside.
The Turkish-backed coalition released photos showing its fighters firing mortar rounds at the Kurdish-dominated group’s positions east of the towns of Marea and Herbel.
Northern Aleppo witnessed several clashes between the two sides during the last few months. However, this was the first time the NSA openly announced an attack on the SDF, since Operation Olive Branch in Afrin last year.
The attack came less than 24 hours after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s promise to enter the Kurdish-held territory in northeastern Syria.
“We shared this [the plan to enter northeastern Syria] with Russia and the U.S. As long as harassment fire continues, we cannot remain silent,” the Daily Sabah quoted Erdogan as saying.
The Washington Post reported that the U.S. is making a “last-ditch effort” to stop a Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria by presenting a joint plan to Ankara.
Previous U.S.-Turkish agreements, like the one on Manbij, failed as a result of Washington’s blind commitment to the SDF. This explains why Ankara would prefer military action over any unguaranteed political agreement.