Turkish operation “risks giving ISIS breathing room” - CNN

The Turkish military operation against the Kurdish-held Syrian enclave of Afrin risks allowing Islamic State (ISIS) to recover, just as the jihadist group was about to be wiped out, U.S. news channel CNN said.

“Turkey's military incursion into northern Syria against Kurdish militia opens yet another front in the seven-year Syrian conflict, and risks giving ISIS breathing room just as it was being suffocated,” it said.

“In effect, one NATO member is trying to take down a group which is trained and armed by another and which has done much of the fighting against ISIS – while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fumes on the sidelines.”

It quoted the Washington-based think-tank Institute for the Study of War as saying that the move “threatened to provoke a widening Turkish-Kurdish war that could unravel the U.S. stabilisation effort in eastern Syria and force the U.S. to reconsider support for the YPG."

If Turkey intends to take the city of Afrin and then continue on to Manbij in the east, the broadcaster said, that would represent a new “war within a war” in Syria.

CNN also raised the possibility that Turkey might have made an agreement to help Russia in the Syrian province of Idlib.

“Some analysts believe Turkey has struck a bargain with the Russians -- help ‘deconfliction’ in Idlib in return for a free hand in Afrin,” it said.

“Russia withdrew its modest military presence in the area ahead of the Turkish operation.”