Turkish Military Supports Syrian Rebel Forces in Attack on Kesab, Syria
The US 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik, Turkey, is just 130 miles away from the Syrian border where the Turkish military actively supported rebel forces in their new offensive towards Assad's Alawites.The rebel assault that began March 21 attacked Kasab, an Armenian town of 3000, in Latakia province, home to President Assad. The Turks and the Armenians have had a stormy history stemming from the massacres during the Greek-Turkish War from 1919-1922. So, the question is perhaps Turkey is helping the rebels fight Assad and also it is another attack on the Armenian people by Turkey, who just happen to occupy the region.
The rebel forces come from two groups comprising of Chechens, Tunisians, Turks, and Arabs. There are about 4000 fighters, including many from the al-Nusra group. Many of the fighters are from the disbanded Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front, oddly supported by Saudi intelligence agencies.
What is unique about this rebel attack is that Turkish tanks and artillery were stationed at the border in support of the rebel attack. Turkish forces fully supported the rebels while overhead, the Turkish airforce provided a protective zone to keep Syrian aircraft out. The Assad regime responded to the assault with troops and airstrikes. On March 23, a Syrian MiG-21, violated Turkish air space attempting to attack the rebels in Turkish areas. The MIG-21 and F-16 from Turkey dueled in the air but it was no contest.The Syrian jet went down but the pilot ejected.
So far, this force has been able to carve a very narrow corridor into northwest Syria from the tall mountain of Jabal al-Zawiya in the Idlib region up to a point near Syria’s northern Mediterranean coast. The group has captured the towns of Kazab, Khirbet and Samra northwest of the coastal town of Latakia. The goal of the rebel offensive is Assad's home town of Qardaha. This may be a little too far for the 4000 spearhead due to many local defense groups.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is in favor of going ahead with direct intervention despite strong opposition from his military generals. In fact, leaked recordings show a discussion about creating a pretext to allow for Turkish intervention. A year ago, Turkey wanted to create a safe zone for the rebels inside Syria but NATO vetoed the idea, It seems Turkey is willing to go alone, which might drag NATO into the Syrian conflict. Iran has threatened to cut off oil supplies to Turkey if intervention occurs. Worse, the Turkish parliament has approved with such an intervention.
The Syrian war is about to become more international, again!