Truths behind Afrin and Eastern Ghouta

On January 30, the Turkish military launched an operation in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin district under a code-name “Olive Branch Operation.” The offensive was against the Kurdish-led Democratic Union Party in Syria.

After the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in eastern Syria in recent months, the remaining takfiri terrorist groups attacked the Eastern Ghouta district, and intensified the sufferings there once again.
Following the clashes between terrorist groups in eastern Damascus with the Syrian army, and the launch of mortars and missiles from extremist groups into the residential areas of the Syrian capital, which killed or wounded many civilians, the Syrian army launched operations to destroy the terrorists.

The blow against the extremists has pushed the West to spread lies and propaganda against the Assad government.

The UN Security Council has held numerous meetings for the so-called ceasefire in the eastern Ghouta, while ironically, more than a month ago, Turkish army launched the attacks in Afrin. So far, the West and the Arab world have kept silent about the killing of Kurdish civilians by the Turkish army, and so has the UN Security Council. Double standards seem to apply.

What is worth noting is that in the latest fights in Eastern Ghouta, Iranian forces, as well as Hezbollah, Fatemiyoun … have never dispatched troops to the area, and the operation has been running by Syrian ground and air forces, backed by Russians.

US, Russia’s stance on Turkey’s invasion of Afrin

In the beginning of the Turkish invasion of Afrin, Kurdish armed groups reached out to the United States for help, but Washington not only did not support the Kurds, but said explicitly that Afrin was not a top priority for the US military.

The gesture proves that the White House had already given the green light to the Turkish army to attack Afrin, so that the US could gain dominance of the eastern region of the Euphrates.

Moscow, too, has taken a hazy stance on Turkey’s Afrin offensive. A few days prior to the invasion of Afrin, Russia withdrew its advisors from the Kurdish region to protect the lives of their citizens.

Russia’s move on Afrin has generated speculation that Moscow and Ankara have reached an “unwritten agreement” in which Turkey, along its border, could occupy an area and establish a security “belt” of 10 kilometers deep in Syria’s Afrin.

However, Turkey’s objectives in Afrin go beyond the “unwritten agreement”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that he will seek to transfer the Syrian refugees from Turkey to the Afrin area, which would mean a change in the population composition of the Afrin region and the conversion of the Kurdish majority to a minority.

The Damascus government certainly does not agree to the occupation of areas of its territory by Turkey under the pretext of establishing a security belt.

The Kurds, disappointed with the US, have turned to the Syrian government for assistance, pleading with the Syrian army to return to Afrin after seven years of Kurdish domination in the area.

In indirect negotiations between the Syrian government and the Kurdish groups, Damascus has put forward certain conditions to deploy troops to Afrin: the Kurds must hand over their guns to the Syrian state.

To this day, the Kurds have refused to turn in their weapons, and thus the Syria has not deployed units to Afrin.

On the one hand, the Syrian government avoids direct talks with the Kurds, as it does not recognize the legitimacy of Kurdish nationalism, and on the other hand, the area is part of Syria’s territory, and therefore, Syria’s national sovereignty calls for the involvement of its military to keep away foreign forces.

Eastern Ghouta, crises central

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis and over the past seven years, the Eastern Ghouta has been the focus of terrorists seeking to attack and threaten nearby Damascus.

The new round of clashes in the Eastern Ghouta, however, began this winter because the Syrian army managed to carry out successful operations in northern Hama and in the eastern province of Idlib in December and January.

The liberation of Abu al-Duhour military Airport, in eastern Idlib, the largest Syrian military airport in the north, pushed the terrorists to another front.

The terrorist groups in the Eastern Ghouta, assuming that the Syrian army will not be able to operate in this area, began a new round of attacks by targeting the residential areas of eastern Damascus. Since late February, the severity of the mortar and missile attacks has increased considerably both in terms of volume and geographic extent in Damascus.

The Syrian army, following victories in the eastern province of Idlib, moves some of its forces to relieve Eastern Ghouta. Brigadier General Soheil Hassan (known as Nimr) was commanded by the Russians to transfer their troops from East Idlib to Eastern Ghouta. It was an attempt by the Russians to help secure the capital and, at the same time, compensate for the dissatisfaction of the Syrian government with Russia’s position on Afrin.

With the arrival of Soheil Hassan’s forces in Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian army has targeted the terrorists’ hideouts effectively, in such a way that the East Aleppo liberation scenario may be repeated in the Ghouta.

After the disagreements between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, bloody clashes ensued between Jaysh al-Islam on the one hand, and Falq al-Sham and Jabhat an-Nusra on the other.

The psychological warfare and the western and Arab media propaganda have become so focused on the Eastern Ghouta that the UN Security Council has held several sessions in the last two weeks to establish a ceasefire in the region.

The experience of these types of ceasefires in Syria has proven that the main loser has been the Syrian government, because it complies with ceasefires, but the terrorist groups, in particular the Jabhat an-Nusra, often do not.

With Saturday night’s UNSC resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria, including Russia, revealed that Moscow was also under political and media pressure. This may temporarily prevent the Syrian army from moving forward in Eastern Ghouta.

First published in our partner Mehr News Agency