Significant increase in the rate of joint Turkish and Russian patrols in Syria, what does it mean?

Significant increase in the rate of joint Turkish and Russian patrols in Syria, what does it mean?

Significant increase in the rate of joint Turkish and Russian patrols in Syria, what does it mean?
 
 
 
 
During June 2022, Russia and Turkey have conducted 8 joint patrols in full gear, including 4 military armored vehicles from each side, with air coverage from two Russian military helicopters. This number (8 patrols) is equivalent to double the monthly average, which ranges between 3 and 5 ones per month since the launch of this mechanism as a tool for verifying the implementation of the provisions of the Sochi Memorandum 2019, especially the item related to the withdrawal of PKK members from the border strip between Syria and Turkey to a distance of 30 km to the south.
 
It is noted that this unprecedented rise in the rate of joint patrols coincided with the escalation of the possibility of Turkey launching a new military operation against the PKK within the SDF-controlled areas.
 
The patrols that were carried out in June, were among all the usual four main tracks in the eastern and western countryside of Ain al-Arab / Kobani, in the countryside of Darbasiyah, and in the countryside of Malikiyah / Dereik Shamali.
 
The patrol tracks were as follows: two joint patrols in the Alyan oil border area of Al-Malikiyah / Dereik, north of al-Hasakah, which is a major deployment area for US forces, two patrols in Al-Darbasiyah- the first two joint patrols in this area since the beginning of 2022-. Also, four joint patrols are to be in the eastern and western countryside areas of Ain Al-Arab.
 
On the 28th of the same month, after several days of conducting joint patrols in the Al-Malikiyah / Derek area, northeast of al-Hasakah city; Turkish drones targeted two military vehicles in the village of Khan al-Jabal in the same area, which were carrying members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and workers hired by the Party to dig tunnels in its areas of control in Syria and Iraq.
 
What makes this operation a distinguished one is that it took place deep in the main area of the deployment of US forces in the border triangle between Syria, Turkey and Iraq; the targeted site is only 3 km away from the agricultural airport of Rubaria village, which is used by the American forces as a military point that has a military helicopters’ helipad. This indicates the existence of coordination between the two sides to make the operation a success.
 
In view of the location of the alleged Turkish operation and the significant change in the number and diversity of joint patrols between the Russian and Turkish sides during June, it can be said that these changes have a number of indications and objectives, namely:
 
• Reaffirming the mutual commitment of Russia and Turkey to carrying out joint patrols as a verification tool for the implementation of the Sochi Memorandum (2019); especially after Turkey noticeably showed lesser confidence in the effectiveness of this tool in the first quarter of 2022. Ankara responded to that by reducing the rate of patrols at the time, with the increase in air strikes targeted leaders and cadres of the PKK, and the subsequent threat of a major military operation targeting SDF-controlled areas.
 
• The level of coordination between the US and Turkish forces in the pursuit and targeting of PKK members and cadres has raised. Such a tactic might be taken by Washington in order to prevent Ankara from launching a military operation east of the Euphrates. Thus, the continuation of the ceasefire in northeastern Syria in accordance with the Sochi Memorandum (2019) would be ensured.
 
Based on the foregoing, it can be believed that the possible Turkish military operation will not affect the areas east of the Euphrates, at least in the short and medium terms. Such an operation, if lunched, may be limited to areas west of the Euphrates; i.e. Tal Rifaat or Manbij to a lesser extent. It is expected that the coming period will witness a significant increase in air targeting operations against the PKK within all SDF-controlled areas.
 
Although the continuation of the high rate of joint patrols east of the Euphrates is currently favourable by Russia, Turkey and the United States, even though in different degrees, it remains fragile and is likely to decline as a result of a shift in the position of one of these parties at least. In this regard, Moscow or Washington may take a negative position if Ankara launches a new military operation.

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