Assad has gained from Turkey’s Afrin op - columnist

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been one of the principle beneficiaries of the Turkish operation in the Kurdish-held Syrian district of Afrin, journalist Seth Frantzman wrote in the Jerusalem Post.

“This leaves the regime with gains in northern Syria and new refugees, some fleeing the regime, and others fleeing the fighting in Afrin,” he said.

“It appears that once again Damascus has outplayed its rivals, allowing a conflict between Turkey and the (Syrian Kurdish) YPG on its soil that it hopes will weaken both while it slowly takes more territory.”

Assad had initially sought to veto the operation, Frantzman said, but sources say a deal was reached to allow Turkish troops into Syrian territory.

“The same day that Turkey and the rebels attacked Afrin, Syria attacked the rebels and took Abu al-Duhur military airport in Afrin,” he said. “The regime then conquered several hundred square kilometres of countryside.”
However, this tacit agreement may be falling apart after rebels downed a Russian aircraft, Frantzman said.

“Turkey’s offensive seems to have slowed even as Turkish armoured vehicles have deployed to observation points in Idlib,” he said. “Syrian air defences have been moved closer to the Idlib front (and) Tehran has called for Ankara to halt its offensive.”