Turkey Ups the Ante in Syria


PUTIN SAVES DAMASCUS AND ANKARA FROM LARGE-SCALE WAR. (By Vladimir Mukhin. Nezavisimaya gazeta, Nov. 28, 2016, p. 1. Condensed text:) At Ankara’s initiative, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke twice by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The official reason for said conversations was "an exchange of opinions on the situation in Syria." At the same time, NG’s military and diplomatic sources reported that Erdogan’s calls had to do with a Nov. 23 - 25 series of attacks by unidentified jets on Turkish Army positions near the city of al-Bab (northern Aleppo Province, Syria). As a result, Ankara incurred heavy losses.

Initially, the Turkish General Staff accused Syrian aviation. However, the Syrian Air Force command denied this [allegation]. Still, the conflict grew. Turkey’s Hurriyet daily quoted Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim as saying that the deaths of Turkish soldiers "would of course carry consequences." The prime minister reportedly confirmed the assessment given by Gen. Hulusi Akar, commander of the Turkish General Staff, who had said the soldiers were killed as a result of actions by Syrian government forces. Some Turkish media outlets already announced that this meant the start of a large-scale Syrian-Turkish war.

At the same time, sources say that in his phone conversations with Erdogan, Vladimir Putin "managed to convince the latter that neither Moscow nor Damascus had anything to do with the air attacks on al-Bab." They could have been a provocation by the US-led coalition, timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Turkey shooting down a Russian Su-24 in the mountains on the border with Syria [see Current Digest, Vol. 67, No. 48, pp. 3 - 6]. "Russia, which got an apology from Erdogan over last year’s incident [see Current Digest, Vol. 68, No. 26, pp. 3 - 6], does not ...

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