Syria’s Future ‘Depends on Cooperation Between Russian, Turkish Militaries’

 

A Turkish soldier on armoured military vehicle patrols the border between Turkey and Syria, near the southeastern village of Besarslan, in Hatay province, Turkey, November 1, 2016

 

Russian and Turkish militaries should increasingly coordinate their counterterrorism efforts in Syria to avoid incidents similar to the one which saw three Turkish soldiers killed and 11 others wounded in an airstrike on Daesh targets near the city of al-Bab, security analyst Abdullah Agar told Sputnik Turkey.

Russia and Turkey “need to boost cooperation on the Syrian battlefield,” he said. “Syria’s future and the fate of the geopolitical partnership between Moscow and Ankara depend on the nature of cooperation and the level of trust between Russian and Turkish militaries. If our armed forces do not increasingly coordinate their efforts in Syria, it could lead to similar incidents and various manipulations.”

Agar, a retired Turkish army commando who took part in military operations in Syria, was referring to an incident which took place on February 9 near the Daesh-held town of al-Bab when Russian combat planes accidentally launched an airstrike on a building with Turkish servicemen inside. Three soldiers taking part in Ankara-led Operation Euphrates Shield died and 11 others were wounded.The Turkish military and Ankara-backed rebels have tried to liberate al-Bab, one of the last remaining Daesh strongholds in Syria, for months. The Russian Aerospace Forces have recently joined these efforts, launching airstrikes against militant positions in coordination with Ankara.

“While conducting an operation in al-Bab, Turkish forces decided to encircle Daesh fighters, ending up in an area controlled by the militants,” the security analyst narrated. “Apparently, this information was not transferred to the Russian Armed Forces in time. This shows that there is a lack of full-fledged coordination between Russia and Turkey in Syria at the moment.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Army General Valery Gerasimov expressed condolences to their Turkish counterparts, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and General Hulusi Akar. The incident is said to have taken place due to the lack of coordination with regard to the location of enemy targets.

The incident has prompted Putin and Erdogan to reach an agreement on boosting bilateral military cooperation in Syria, but Abdullah Agar noted that it will not be an easy task.”On the one hand, there are military aircraft flying at top speeds, on the other hand, Turkish troops are taking part in endless urban combat in a city with no clear lines of contact. There are additional challenges since Russian planes are not the only ones launching airstrikes against Daesh targets. There are also Turkish, Syrian and coalition aircraft,” he explained.

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