Potential dimensions of the new Turkish operation in Iraq and Syria

Potential dimensions of the new Turkish operation in Iraq and Syria

Potential dimensions of the new Turkish operation in Iraq and Syria


On February 1, Turkey launched a new military operation in Syria and Iraq under the name "Winter Eagle" against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in which no less than 80 sites were targeted in 3 main areas, namely "Sinjar" in "Ninawa" and Al-Malikiyah" and "Karachuk" in Al-Hasakah Governorate.

It is noted, however, that the new operation comes a year after the end of Operation Eagle Claw (2), despite the failure to achieve the desired goals, and less than 6 months after Turkey launched an air campaign against the "PKK" in Iraq and Syria.

In fact, this is the first time that Turkey has launched a military operation in both Syria and Iraq, as previous operations were limited to one of the two countries. It seems that the main objective of this is to cut the supply and communication lines between the leadership of the PKK in "Qandil" and the Kurdish Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria; Since the control of the "Sinjar" district in northwestern Iraq in 2017, the "PKK" has had a greater ability to establish advanced operating bases near Syria, which it uses to enhance its capabilities there.

In general, the PKK transports weapons, ammunition, money and personnel in both directions; Through a network of tunnels, caves and smuggling lines along the mountains.

In fact, the implementation of Operation Winter Eagle and any possible movement in Syria cannot take place without coordination between Turkey and the United States, or at least the absence of the latter's objection.

It is noted that the international coalition carried out a landing operation in Atmeh, north of Idlib, and used the Turkish airspace, one day after the start of Operation Winter Eagle, which reflects the high-level security coordination between the two sides, which often occurs under the principle of bartering, or a step-for-step policy. Accordingly, each party makes concessions to the other in exchange for achieving the minimum interests of the two parties.

It is not excluded that Operation Winter Eagle will move later from aerial bombardment to ground incursion, similar to previous operations, but, however, it does not seem that any move in this regard may include the province of Al-Hasakah, while it is expected that if Turkey intends to carry out ground attacks in Syria, it will target the area that links the two areas of Operation Peace Spring and Euphrates Shield.

However, Turkey must be careful not to clash with Russia in Syria and not miss the opportunity to pressure it to implement the "Sochi" memorandum (2019), either jointly or independently, which means that the Turkish forces with the opposition factions will carry out the tasks of removing the "PKK" from the safe zone after ensuring the withdrawal of Russian forces from the potential area of operations, as they did prior to the launch of Operation Olive Branch (2018).


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