This situation is escalating rapidly. With this most recent aggression by Turkey, we will have to wait and see what Russia's response will be:
A video released by the Syrian Kurdish news agency ANHA and obtained by Ruptly shows damaged buildings and people rushing to take care of the wounded in the village of Maryamayn near the town of Afrin after reportedly undergoing a Turkish artillery attack.
Ruptly reported that at least two civilians had been killed and several injured.
Turkish military sources told Anadolu Agency that the shelling continued on Sunday, destroying several positions of YPG – the military wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD). The militias reportedly suffered a number of casualties, the sources added.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told German Chancellor Angela Merkel by phone on Sunday that Turkey’s military will continue to respond to attacks by Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria, sources in Davutoglu’s office told Reuters.
Washington and Paris have already called on Turkey to cease its shelling of Kurdish targets in Syria.
Turkey’s shelling of Syria is a warning to the Kurds to stop trying to free the northern part of the country from Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL), Kobane-based political analyst Barzan Iso told RT, citing reports of civilians injured in the attacks.
“Turkey is trying to prevent Kurds from liberating the area around the Turkish border from IS,” Iso said. “The YPG [Kurdish People’s Protection] units are stronger than before and have the ability to free the area around Turkey from ISIS.”
The reasons for Turkey’s aggressive move is not just profitable relations with Islamic State, the Kurdish analyst said, referring to the cheap IS oil exports that Turkey has reportedly been receiving. Moreover, he argued, IS fighters in northern Syria also create a useful buffer zone for Ankara that could eventually help Turkey “occupy” the territory between Aleppo and Turkey’s border.
This is just the first signal that Turkey will be further intervening into Syria, he said.
Turkey shelled positions of Syrian government forces in Aleppo and Latakia provinces as well as Kurdish targets near the city of Azaz, in northwestern Syria. This included an air base recently retaken from jihadists reportedly with Russian air support.
FIGHTING HAS BEGUN !!!! Turkey Shelling into Syria; Directly Attacking Syrian Arab Army and perimeter of Russian Base in Latakia
It is not known if Russian air forces will engage the artillery firing into Syria because to do so would mean attacking those forces located inside Turkey. If Russia were to attack them – even though they have lawful cause to do so — it is clear that Turkey would cry to NATO that they had been “attacked” and try to invoke Article 5 of the NATO self-defense agreement. That would require NATO to come to the defense of Turkey, thus engaging Russia directly.
This is a fast developing story, and will be updated frequently today (13 February 2016). Check back often.
UPDATE: 5:57 PM Eastern US Time — Russia is amassing military supplies in its Southern Military District – high alert
UPDATE 6:04 PM Eastern US Time — BREAKING: Turkey confirms that its artillery targeted Syrian regime positions in Latakia (This is now an actual admission by the sovereign government of Turkey that it has deliberately attacked the forces of the legitimate and sovereign government of Syria. Without cause or justification, Turkey has begun a war.)
UPDATE 6:11 PM Eastern US Time — Emergency Action Messages (EAM) – the highest priority message in the entire United States Military Command Structure, requiring IMMEDIATE attention and action — have been broadcasting non-stop for about the last ten minutes on 8992 KHz USB.
UPDAT 6:16 PM Eastern US Time — URGENT: Turkish artillery renews attack on Syrian govt army positions in Aleppo
Road To World War III: Turkish Army Enters Syria After Second Day Of Shelling As Saudi Warplanes Arrive
"The Syrian government says Turkish forces were believed to be among 100 gunmen it said entered Syria on Saturday accompanied by 12 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, in an ongoing supply operation to insurgents fighting Damascus," Reuters reports. "The operation of supplying ammunition and weapons is continuing via the Bab al-Salama crossing to the Syrian area of Azaz," the Assad government says.
Meanwhile, since all that would take to unleash a full-blown war is for some Russian to be unexpectedly blown up, events like this do not inspire much confidence in the Syrian "ceasefire":
On Saturday, the geopolitical world was shocked when Turkey began shelling Aleppo, where the Syrian opposition has its back against the wall in the face of an aggressive advance by Hezbollah and the IRGC supported, of course, by Russian airstrikes.
To be sure, everyone knew Ankara and Riyadh would have to do something quick if they wanted to preserve the rebellion. Their proxies are being rolled up rapidly by Hassan Nasrallah’s army and Vladimir Putin’s air force juggernaut. But few expected the escalation would come so quickly.
But Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unpredictable (just ask the lone surviving pilot of the Su-24 Turkey shot down in November) and this weekend, he decided that there’s no time like the present when it comes to starting World War III.
Officially, Turkey says it’s shelling Kurdish positions in Syria in self defense. It’s all about securing the border against hostiles, Ankara says. Of course the idea that the YPG are set to invade Turkey is laughable. The Syrian Kurds have secured enough space in their own country to declare an autonomous proto-state, and they needn’t aspire to capturing Turkish territory.
And so, Turkey is set to take the fight to Syria in the name of fighting “terrorists”, which for Erdogan, means eradicating the Kurds. As we noted on Saturday, the challenge for Ankara and Riyadh is this: somehow, Turkey and Saudi Arabia need to figure out how to spin an attack on the YPG and an effort to rescue the opposition at Aleppo as an anti-ISIS operation even though ISIS doesn’t have a large presence in the area.
Incredibly, Turkey seems less concerned about the optics than we thought. In short, Erdogan looks as though he’s prepared to simply enter the war on the pretext that Turkey needs to roll back the YPG which, you’re reminded is explicitly backed by the US.
In a way that makes sense. You can’t very well shell Aleppo and use ISIS as an excuse. The group’s presence isn’t large enough in the area. But what you can do is say “the PKK are terrorists, they’re allied with the YPG who are in Aleppo, and therefore, we need to shell Aleppo.”
Put in the simplest possible terms, what Erdogan is really doing is trying to reopen supply lines closed by Russia and Iran by wiping out Kurdish forces who dominate the northern border with Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Russians aren't letting up. Aleppo will be recaptured and that, as they say, is that.
"Russia is determined to create facts on the ground, and when they have accomplished this, then they will invite the West to fight a common enemy, this is ISIS," Norbert Roettgen, head of the foreign affairs committee in the German parliament says, underscoring our contention that Russia is determined to negotiate from a position of absolute strength. "Let's be clear about what this agreement does. It allows Russia's assault on Aleppo to continue for another week," John McCain exclaimed. "Mr Putin is not interested in being our partner. He wants to shore up the Assad regime, he wants to establish Russia as a major power in the Middle East, he wants to use Syria as a live fire exercise for Russia’s modernizing military."
Right. And America is seemingly powerless to stop him.
In the short term, the only question now is this: how long will it be before Turkey or Saudi Arabia kills a Hezbollah fighter or an IRGC general?
Or worse: what happens when a Russian ends up dead at the hands of the region's Sunni powers?
Three Shia divisions, who fought Daesh in Iraq, are fighting now in the south and south-east of the province of Aleppo supporting the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Daily Beast quoted US officials as saying.
Several Iraqi Shia divisions, previously backed by US are battling now in Syria on behalf of Bashar al-Assad against Syrian militias backed by US forces, according to the Daily Beast citing two representatives of the US Department of Defense.
The US military confirmed that "they believe… at least one" unit of the Badr Brigade is fighting in southern Aleppo alongside other Iraqi militia groups" supported by "Russian airpower and Iranian troops-and all of whom are bolstering President Bashar al-Assad's Syrian Arab Army."