Anticipation of an upcoming Turkish offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been ramping up in Ankara since President Erdogan proclaimed plans for a new incursion on 23rd May, heightening tensions and putting all sides on a war footing. Turkey’s leadership asserts that an operation would seize territory 30 kilometers deep into Syrian territory, linking disconnected regions taken earlier in operation Peace Spring and Olive Branch, with Kobani seen as a likely target. Still, it remains unclear when such an operation could start and to what degree Turkish-backed Syrian opposition factions would participate.
Attached Map: Military Situation in North-West Syria – 2nd June 2022
- Strikes against SDF: Following presidential pronouncements of an offensive, Turkish forces launched several ground and air strikes against SDF targets in northern Aleppo. A Turkish drone bombed and destroyed a communications tower in Tal Rifaat, followed by artillery shelling of SDF positions in Zour Maghar and Jabal al-Shuyoukh, near the city of Jarablus, and around Manbij (27.5).
- Turkish-regime clashes: Tensions between Turkish forces and the regime have continued to sporadically escalate into violence along the de-escalation line. Regime forces bombed a Turkish base with heavy artillery in the Sheikh Suleiman area, west of Aleppo, resulting in casualties among Turkish soldiers there (13.5).
- Joint patrols: Despite occasional conflagrations between the two sides however, Turkish and Russian forces have continued to cooperate on joint patrols.
Regime & Russian Movement
- Regime violations: Regime forces and affiliated militias continued to repeatedly bombard areas and villages in the southern countryside of Idlib and the western countryside of Hama. Artillery strikes were recorded in more than a dozen towns since mid-February, including Kafr Ta’al, Tadel, Atareb, Ma’arat al-Na’asan, Fohan, Qaqafin, Kansafra, al-Sarmaniyah, al-Fatirah, Benin and Felifel (30.4, 8.5, 15.5, 26.5).
- Russian violations: While the scale of Russian bombardment against opposition areas has slowed since the country’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian warplanes refocused attacks on territories occupied by Turkey during Operation Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield. Russia launched four thermobaric missile strikes targeting the outskirts of Kafr Jannah, a village in the Afrin countryside of Afrin, injuring two people (13.5). Another provocation took place two weeks later when Russian warplanes launched air-to-air missiles over the city of Marea, north of Aleppo (28.5).
Opposition & Extremist Movement
- Anti-narcotics operation: SNA factions, in cooperation with the Anti-Narcotics Branch, launched a campaign targeting the drug cartels in Turkish-occupied areas, arresting a number of individuals and confiscating large quantities of contraband (21.5). The campaign involved hundreds of soldiers and came in anticipation of a larger armed clash with drug smugglers.
- Aid convoy: A humanitarian convoy consisting of 14 trucks loaded with supplies from the World Food Program entered Idlib province through the Tarnabah crossing near Saraqib (16.5). The food was set for distribution to civilians in opposition-held areas of the northwest.