Russia-SDF relationship is at its best: Russian researcher

WASINGTON, US (North Press) – Turkish threats to launch a new operation in north Syria face several challenges, on top of that is the crucial Russian rejection to any new Turkish operation, Konstantin Truevtsev, Russian senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told North Press on Monday.

“The relationship between the SDF and Russia is at its best today. What happened in Afrin will not be repeated, as positions were divergent between Moscow and the SDF leadership. However, Russia today stresses its determination to repel any Turkish attack on areas in Manbij, Tel Rifaat and Kobani,” Truevtsev added. 

Truevtsev noted to other challenges that prevent Turkey from successfully advances in its operation, foremost of which is the weakness of the Turkish-backed opposition factions, which have frequently tried to advance in new areas, but failed. 

Turkey’s proxies in Syria are the weakest proxy in the region, as they are deeply divided and unable to regularly coordinate, he said.

The Russian researcher doubted the possibility of Turkey to advance in any new areas depending on these militias, as there is a need to mobilize Turkish Special Forces to do so, according to him.

“If Turkey openly says that it has no problem relying on al-Qaeda organization in Syria, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra), then it may be able to achieve some advances due to the strength of Tahrir al-Sham. As for the proxies in the areas of the so-called Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, they are divided groups and have proven their failure in both Libya and Syria.”

“Coordination between the SDF and the Russian side is constantly progressing. The level of this coordination has improved after the increase in the Russian presence in the SDF-controlled areas, which ensures that a new Turkish invasion is not possible. It can develop as Russia plays a mediating role between the Syrian government and the Syrian Democratic Council SDC),” according to Truevtsev.

“Russia is keen to spare the “Orthodox” communities on Turkish-Syrian border from new Turkish aggression, as there have been several clashes in the past between the Syrian government and SDF. However, Russia sees that this relationship can be improved so that it will not develop into a military confrontation,” he stated.

The Russian newspaper Svobodnaya Pressa said that both Russia and the United States are stressing to prevent a new Turkish invasion of the Tel Rifaat area in the countryside of Aleppo, as Presidents, Putin and Biden, oppose it.

“Russia sees the necessity of reclaiming new areas occupied by Turkey in northeast and northwest Syria, specifically the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch areas, which were emptied of their Kurdish residents and resettled others in them, similar to what happened in Afrin, where more than 50,000 Kurds were displaced,” Truevtsev added to North Press.

“Moscow intends to take action in these areas, as to what it is doing in Idlib. The Turkish-backed opposition factions controlled all of Idlib, but now only a third of it remained under the control of the opposition militants. Russia and the Syrian army managed to regain the areas that surround Idlib, in the countryside of Latakia, Hama, and Aleppo,” according to Truevtsev.

Reporting by Hadeel Oueiss