As the TurkReich zeroes in on Afrin in its effort to ethnically cleanse the region of Kurds, the looming reality of a difficult, costly urban war is coming upon them. To that end, the TurkReich appears to be shifting strategy as it attempts to focus the bulk of its forces on Afrin-proper, aiming to make a straight-line surge to the middle of the city.
From Al Monitor
|Stakes rise in Syria as Turkey clashes with pro-Assad militias|
Turkey looks determined to march on the center of Syria’s Afrin city by way of Jindires, a move that will shift Ankara’s strategy from rural to urban warfare and that threatens a protracted, difficult battle.
Turkey’s gendarmerie and police special operations units on standby in Turkey near the Syrian border entered the Afrin district of Aleppo province during battles for the Jindires and Rajo areas. That movement indicates the operation’s focus will indeed turn from rural terrain to urban locations. On March 1, 80-100 Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) attacked a Turkish gendarmerie detachment west of Rajo. The YPG elements infiltrated the area held by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) by using prepared tunnels and taking advantage of the dense fog that for four days had restricted air reconnaissance and close air support. Eight specialized gendarmerie noncommissioned officers and two fighters with the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) were killed, while 13 soldiers were wounded — five of them seriously.
There are lessons to be learned from this clash, which had deep repercussions for Turkey. First, heavy fog and adverse weather conditions are becoming a serious disadvantage for Turkish troops widely dispersed in the Afrin area. Moreover, although the YPG appears to have withdrawn from the Rajo area, it is capable of carrying out hit-and-run attacks by making use of mountainous terrain and poor visibility. This tactic is frequently used by the outlawed militant group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeast Turkey and is bound to continue. The PKK has been fighting within Turkey to achieve Kurdish self-rule. Turkey considers the YPG to be the PKK’s Syrian extension. The YPG plays a large role in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which the United States has backed against the Islamic State.