Turkish bombardment of Syria’s Ain Issa clear violation of agreements: analysts and politicians

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – Armed opposition groups carried out a surprise attack at midnight with artillery and mortar shells on Tuesday in Ain Issa, northern Raqqa countryside, after an attempt to break into the town from the neighboring Sayda village.

The Autonomous Administration’s Internal Security Forces (Asayish) managed to thwart the attack, inflicting casualties among the opposition groups, who retreated after several hours of clashes.

Observers believe that this attack is a clear violation to the Russian-Turkish agreements.

There are Russian bases and Syrian government military posts in the area that are stationed there according to an agreement with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Meanwhile, Turkey signed with both Russia and the US two ceasefires in October 2019, but Ain Issa has been witnessing constant violations by Turkish-backed opposition groups.

Attempt to draw attention

“Shelling on Ain Issa is mere an attempt to draw attention away from the upcoming withdrawals of Turkish forces from Idlib and its south and the evacuation of all observation posts,” Salim Kharrat, Secretary-General of the Democratic Solidarity Party residing in Damascus, said.

“Russia, which is the guarantor for the ceasefire, sees the shelling as a violation,” Kharrat told North Press.

“The Syrian government adheres to a consistent position considering Turkey an invader, occupier and partner to terrorists,” he added.

He believes that all matters, “according to the announced and unannounced agreements, are heading towards the beginning of the end of the Syrian crisis.”

Ain Issa has strategic importance, being near the M4 Highway, which connects Syria’s north and south and is a vital gateway for both commercial and personal travel.

“There is more than one possibility regarding what happened in the town of Ain Issa,” Samer Elias, a political analyst in Russian affairs, said.

The Turkish withdrawal decision from the observatory posts in Idlib may have angered some members of the Syrian opposition groups who are deployed in there, according to Elias.

“Many see the Turkish move as an abandonment of Idlib and mutual agreements with Russia, so that they attacked the town, causing a kind of disruption,” he told North Press.

So far Russia was concerned about the stability in the M4 area “because it saw that this road could provide economic solutions to the government, which has not responded to the attack,” according to Elias.

Moreover, by preserving the stability in the area, Russia seeks to fully enhance its role in northeast Syria, he added.

Messages to Russia

“The second possibility may be that Russia sees this issue as Turkey having pushed a group of its close associates to send messages to Russia,” he said.

“The messages may imply that Russia should compensate Turkey for the Turkish withdrawal from the southern M4 Highway in Idlib,” he added.

The compensation can be through “completing a deal or fulfilling previous verbal promises to withdraw from the Tal Rifaat area and some villages surrounding Manbij as part of previous understandings,” according to the political analyst.

Later, Turkey could justify it as “maintaining security in Idlib and securing guarantees that the government would not advance there,” according to Elias.

The Turkish army withdrew from a military post near Morek in the northern Hama countryside, local sources told to North Press on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Turkish military convoys headed towards Zawiya Mountain in the southern Idlib countryside.

Sources suggested that this came within the framework of a new understanding with Russia, but its details had not been officially announced yet.

Reporting by Sardar Hadid