As the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) continue to successfully advance in Syria's Afrin, critical spots have been recaptured and the region is being purged in a way that will contribute to Turkey's security. Meanwhile, the Assad regime seems to have been disturbed by this progress. Recently, it has been alleged that the regime, who aids the Democratic Union Party (PYD) against Turkey and uses the group as a trump card, will enter Afrin. Upon learning of this possibility, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a telephone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin and stated that such a move will draw retaliation.
The Assad regime has survived up to this point thanks to Russia's help, and Moscow will not allow such an act since it has to take Turkey's response into account. This was one of the main issues discussed with Putin. Turkey is determined to continue until the Afrin operation is completed.
Meanwhile, during meetings with several U.S. officials last week, Turkey made considerable progress with regard to Manbij. It can be argued that we are approaching an agreement. On the other hand, taking the stance that sides with rapprochement and the maintenance of dialogue might have upset Russia.
All in all, Turkey will sustain its positions in military bases. According to Çetiner Çetin from the Habertürk new channel, Turkey is taking long-term security measures with the six observation points it will establish in the rural areas of Afrin. A similar instance was formerly seen in the Kurdish region in north Iraq during 1996. For years, the bases located in this area made great contributions to blocking the passage of terrorists. And currently, the buffer zones are of vital importance. So, various buffer zones might be formed in a wide range of positions along the border.
Even though the regime army gave some signals that it might enter Afrin, I think that it would be more accurate to read this as a political move controlled by Russia. Russia does not wish to see a conflict that will upset the balances the country has formed between the regime and Turkey in the region; however, it might employ this possibility to consolidate its own position. Consequently, either the regime hints at the move as part of a game with the knowledge of Russia – although it has no chance of materializing, or the statement that was individually issued by the regime will not be implemented due to Moscow's obstruction.
We should always keep in mind that our operation consists of self-defense that fights against a terror group located in the targeted positions. It is not within the boundaries of the law of war. Nevertheless, if Syria deploys troops in the area, we will enter a war with Syria. Neither Russia nor the U.S. would like to see such a situation. Plus, there are some other questions such as what Iran's stance will be and whether the Shiite militia groups will enter Afrin. But I believe that such scenarios are hardly possible as Turkey has been pursuing a versatile and effective policy both with the U.S. and Russia. I suppose that Russia is not pleased to see the restoration of the strained ties with the U.S. as of the past week. Moscow is not willing to give over its PKK card to the U.S. Therefore, the country might be setting up a new game; but still, it will oppose any actual state that might jeopardize its alliance relations with Turkey while the latter has the upper hand.