Feb 18 2018

Syrian Army may deploy in Afrin

Reports from a range of sources suggest that forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad’s Damascus based regime may soon be deployed in Afrin, an area in north-west Syria bordering Turkey.

The region has been under the control of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) since regime forces relinquished control in 2012. At present, the YPG is resisting an incursion into the region by the Turkish armed forces and their Free Syrian Army allies which began on January 20th this year.   

Speaking to Lebanese-based Al-Meyadin TV, the YPG's media advisor Rezan Hiddo was warm to the idea of the Syrian regime's forces entering Afrin, adding that if an agreement is reached a joint statement will be issued. He also expressed his hope that Syrian air defence units, which recently downed an Israeli jet, will target Turkish warplanes operating in Afrin’s skies.

Other media sources suggest the two sides may already have made an agreement. Turkish daily Hurriyet’s Moscow correspondent reported that the YPG has agreed to turn over control of Afrin to Syrian forces. Russia's official news agency Ria Novosti meanwhile reported that the Syrian army is set to enter Afrin in the coming days.

Unconfirmed reports suggest Damascus may already have begun deploying its forces in Afrin. Iran's al-Alem television correspondent Hussein Murtaza reported that Syrian army reconnaissance units entered Afrin on February 16th. A report in Sendika.org, a Turkish media organization, made similar claims.