Ankara has made a plan to block the the PKK and its Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party's (PYD) efforts to establish a corridor on its southern border. The first step of the plan is to cut off the Idlib-Afrin corridor by providing order in Idlib and blockading Afrin.
The plan regarding the de-escalation zone in Idlib was designed following negotiations with Russia and representatives from Idlib. After returning from Iran, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned the plan: "The Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] will work within the borders of Idlib and outside the borders of the Russian armed forces."
According to the plan's details, the agreed-upon process will continue nonstop in Idlib. Since Idlib is an area of conflict, there will be more strategic movements, with civilian security considered top priority. An isolated area will be established to prevent any conflicts between the regime and opposition forces. The military units and intelligence organizations of the tripartite alliance will act in accordance with each other. In this respect, the town of Jindrese northwest of Aleppo and south of Afrin will be liberated from the PYD's People's Protection Units (YPG) forces. A transition corridor will be established between Jindrese and the Azaz region, an area previously liberated during Operation Euphrates Shield. The backbone of the plan will rest on the traffic canal to be established between the liberated zones and the Idlib de-escalation zone.
The town of Tell Rifaat in northern Aleppo is set to be the next area to be taken from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after Jindrese. After cleaning out the SDF forces, which mainly consist of YPG forces, Tell Rifaat will then become a safe zone. Russia will then ensure that locals in Tell Rifaat are able to return home. When the transition corridor is safe for travel, civilians in Idlib will be moved to Tell Rifaat as well.In the case of Idlib's liberation, a connection will be established between the city and the area that saw Turkey incursion into the country with Euphrates Shield through Dar Taizzah. The end result would leave Afrin, still under PYD control with U.S. support, blockaded. The power of the PYD will be shaken through the Amanos Mountains.
Ankara assumes that following the liberation of Idlib, it will be easier to defeat the YPG in Afrin. During the second phase of the plan, with the liberation of Afrin, the threats that Ankara says the YPG poses to Turkey will be eliminated. The next stages of the plan may see Afrin included in the Idlib de- escalation zone. If Ankara still believes Afrin continues to pose a threat to Turkey, further direct operations may be conducted to secure the area.
By coming to the aide of the local people of Idlib, civilians will be protected and military causalities will be prevented. Any U.S. attempt to give Idlib to the PYD by using Tahrir al-Sham as an excuse will be met with opposition. With this plan, Ankara hopes to prevent a new flow of migration over the Hatay-Reyhanlı border as a result of a possible YPG operation in the Idlib region.
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