Ankara’s plans for a ground incursion into Manbij remain on hold for the time being, with no signs of serious battle preparations or concerted troop mobilizations from Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) groups. However, the situation in northwest Syria has grown more tense in recent weeks and cross border violence between Turkish forces and the Assad regime, which Ankara increasingly sees as an ally of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is clearly on the rise. Following the regime’s shelling of the Karakemish border region last month, a series of Turkish air raids retaliated against joint positions of the regime and SDF around Kobani, killing and wounding at least 15 regime troops. The directness of the attack and high body count marked a departure from earlier tit-for-tat clashes that have been common along the demarcation line, exposing the risks of closer cooperation between the regime and SDF. Another important development is the escalating bombardment of southern Idlib by Russian warplanes, which have carried out dozens of strikes in recent weeks against a range of military and civilian targets. In a single day last month (22.8), a total of 22 air raids pummelled the city of Idlib, which had experienced an extended period of relief from Russian attacks following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February. It appears that the window of relative calm may be closing for Idlib, as Russia regroups and turns its attention back to rebel-held northwest Syria.
Attached Map: Military Situation in North-West Syria – 8th September 2022