On January 12, 2023, the Turkish forces targeted a joint location of the Syrian regime forces, Iranian militias, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the town of "Al-Mayassa" of the Nubul district, which is located near the lines of contact with the city of Afrin, north of Aleppo.
This attack is very similar to the one that hit the regime forces in the town of Jaraqli of Ain al-Arab district, east of Aleppo, in August 2022, and also similar to the attack that hit an SDF site in November of the same year, within the village of al-Makman, north of Deir ez-Zor .
Such a style of repeated targeting indicates the Turkish new approach as an alternative to the conventional military operations that Ankara had previously launched in Syria since 2016. A method as such relies on lightning offensive strikes, which depend on surprise, permanent reconnaissance and surveillance operations, to achieve the desired effect on the enemy, in light of the current unfavourable political conditions conducive to launching ground military operations.
The recent strike that hit the town of "Al-Mayassa", which led to the killing of 3 officers of the regime forces, indicates a number of points, most notably:
- That the targeted site was hosting a meeting of the regime's officers with the Iranian militias . It is likely that that meeting was held to develop a plane for carrying out a military mission on the aforementioned axis. It seems that Iran is behind the preparation of that mission; in view of its negative attitude on the path of normalization that is taking place between Turkey and the regime under the auspices of Russia, but without Iran.
- Militarily, the targeted site constitutes a strategic point with effective influence for whoever controls it; because it is close and overlooking the city of Afrin, it is also close to the Syrian-Turkish border area in the event that the forces controlling that site decided to carry out shootings towards Turkish territory. Moreover, this site is considered a strategic point because it is a defensive line for the towns of "Nubul and Al-Zahra" in which the Iranian militias are stationed.
- From a military perspective, it is not the first time that this site has been used to bomb the Syrian opposition areas, as Russia, before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, resorted to this tactic in order to put pressure on Turkey. However, at the present time it seems that Iran is the party that wanted to put pressure.
- All the lightning military operations carried out by the Turkish forces indicate that they have a bank of targets on the contact axes in the areas where their units are deployed alongside the Syrian opposition factions, and in the depths of the enemy's areas.
- Turkey's ability and willingness to move from the negotiating track to the military one in the event that any attempt and maneuver by the Syrian regime and its allies is discovered.
All in all, Turkey's tactic to carry out lightning military operations against all parties that pose a threat to its national security seems acceptable to Russia and the United States alike. Accordingly, Ankara can develop such an approach from targeting sites to targeting leading figures according to the information and data it possesses, whether this includes lists affiliated with the SDF, Iran, or the regime.